Talk:Interferometry/Archive 1

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I think Fabry-Perot interferometer which is used in laser, for instance, should be mentioned as a particularly accurate and precise instrument.


what properties of He-Ne lasers make them suitable for use in interferometry

simple, cheap and practically sufficient stabilization techniques (zeeman, two modes) because frequency of unstabilized lasers depends on resonator length and can change eg. with temperature

My understanding is that the advantage is narrow linewidth. It means long coherence length, meaning your interferometer can be a reasonable size while preserving fringe resolution. Laura Scudder 08:01, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
To be a little more precise, it is the difference in the pathlengths which can be greater if you use a narrow linewidth. If the difference in the pathlengths is identical you can still use a broad bandwidth, even if your interferometer is very large and the path lengths are long -- for example the MIDI interferometer could easily measure fringes using path lengths of 5 x 1023m (i.e. 500 000 000 000 000 000 000 kilometers) using a very broad band light source because the two path lengths were equal (during observations of the astronomical source NGC 1068). The difference in the pathlengths (or the error in the pathlengths if you are trying to equalise them) which will still give you interference fringes is given by: (wavelength)/(fractional bandpass or linewidth). User:Rnt20 08:57, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

coherence or low coherence

I don't understand what means coherent interferometry and low-coherence interferometry under subtopic "types of interferometry".

Low-coherent interferometry uses white light so that its coherent length is very short, able to measure very small path difference.

Coherent interferometry uses laser so that its coherent length is very long, is that means its resolution is very low? But why it says the interference is capable of very accurate (nanometer) measurement?

What means distance can be measured by phase difference? Two coherent sources differ by 2pi can be said in-phase (phase diff zero) right? Phase difference 0.5pi same with phase difference 1.5pi right? Then how to measure distance?

Why coherent interferometry suffers from a 2π ambiguity problem but low-coherent interferometry not?

Any references for the applications of both interferometry?

to do

add/check text for correlation interferometer to go with image:

Correlation-interferometer.png -- 02:21, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Interferometry, point sources of light and coherency

The article stated that for interference to occur the light that is used must be coherent light. The example of Newton's rings shows that coherency of the light is not a requirement for interference to occur. Newton's rings can be readily obtained with plain sunlight. Other examples of interference patterns from incoherent light are the colours of soap bubbles and of oil films on water; some of the frequencies of the daylight interfere constructively, others destructively. The destructive interference "suppresses" certain bands in the spectrum of the sunlight, so the eye sees colours.

The source of the light to be used for a Michelson-Morley type of interferometric experiment must be a point source or a single slit source if incoherent light is used, see Double-slit experiment, conditions for interference why it must be a point source. Coherency of the light does make interferometry easier, because is is not necessary to render it into a point source then. --Cleon Teunissen | Talk 16:03, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Note that there is no difference between coherent and incoherent light, expect for the bandwidth (the range of frequencies in the light). Coherent and incoherent light sources can always be exchanged in any interferometric experiment, the only difference being that with an incoherent light source the interference fringes become less visible if there is a difference in the path lengths in the interferometer. With a coherent light source there can be a large difference in the path length, and fringes will still be seen. This means it is easier to set up experiments using coherent sources, as you do not need to worry about getting the path lengths exactly the same (anyone who has worked in an optical lab will know about this!). I fail to see how using coherent light makes any difference as to whether you can use point sources or not. Rnt20 17:09, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

In quantum electrodynamics Paul Dirac made the following observations about the quantum of action of the electromagnetic field, the photon "Each photon interferes only with itself. Interference between two different photons never occurs." (source: external link: Science week article on entanglement quoted from: Dirac, P. A. M. The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (Clarendon, Oxford, 1982))

To my knowledge: in laserlight there is a quantum entanglement of the photons. In this entangled state any photon can interfere with any other photon emitted by the same laser. So the quantum entanglement relaxes the constraints: if different paths are available, they do not have to be the same length. External link: Site with answers. See section: laser light is "in phase" light?

It is unclear to me whether Newton's rings obtained with sunlight can be understood at all in terms of classical wave mechanics, as classical wave dynamics requires the waves to be coherent for interference to occur.

It seems to me that according to classical wave mechanics the waves involved are interacting with each other over the whole length of their "journey" as is illustrated by how water waves coming from two sources interact as they propagate parallel to the water surface. By contrast, photons do not interact during their "journey", the interference pattern is produced as the photon interacts with matter (the photon hits the screen.)

Interference patterns can be obtained from starlight. The individual photons of starlight were emitted by separate atoms. Photons do not interact during their "journey". When an interference patterns is obtained, each photon interacts with the interferometric setup individually. The photons entering the interferometric setup do not have the same phase on entering, but they don't have to, since each photon contributes to the interference patten individually. Quantum ElectroDynamics (QED) describes that even when a baseline of hundreds of meters is used, it is possible to obtain interference, and each quantum of action will have interfered with itself only.

It is unclear to me whether this can be interpreted in terms of classical wave dynamics. It seems to me that in classical wave dynamics it must be assumed that the wave phenomenon that light is assumed to be has self-interaction while on its journey, becoming coherent in the process. It cannot be assumed to have been coherent from the start, since it can come from anywhere on the surface of that sun.

I think that in the case of light classical wave mechanics is not up to the task of describing the physics that is going on. For example, in classical wave mechanics, a luminiferous ether is assumed. I think that coherency is a property of lightwaves propagating through the hypothesized luminiferous ether. --Cleon Teunissen | Talk 09:50, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Why monochromatic?

The page makes a big deal of using monochromatic light sources, but many interferometers use white light (most early interferometers did). Coherent light sources (lasers) are very modern, whereas interferometers have been around since Young's slits! Rnt20 18:06, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

With near monochromatic light there are more discernable interference fringes. Each wavelength of light produces a different spacing of interference fringes. Indeed, in astronomical spectroscopy, the dispersion of the starlight is usually not obtained with the help of a prism, but with the help of a diffraction grating. So in an experiment in which the experimentors want to measure, say, a change in interference fringe spacing, then the more monochromatic the light, the more accurate the measurement reading. --Cleon Teunissen | Talk 20:02, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Astronomy bias

This article is much too biased towards astronomy. Interferometry is simply the use for interferometers for whatever purpose. It is not just used for imaging. --J S Lundeen 17:13, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

I would agree it is too focused on a particular frequency range of Interferometery. Interferometery works with sound, Radio, and light. I would put all of the current data in light. Many issues that arise for light, like 2PI confusion, have been solved in sound and radio.


I work with data from an astronomical interferometer and I found this article rather disorganized and confusing. I think that the introduction and first section are a good start, but that the other sections need to be broken off into their own articles and/or that any time spent on this article should be spent expanding the basic discussion. There is too much of a jump from the general (interferometry combines two light waves) into specifics (names of astronomical optical interferometry arrays and so on) and an odd focus on astronomical optical interferometry without sufficient information on all the fields and subfields in which interferometry is useful. There is rather a paucity on the Web of good, thorough, accessible (meaning to laymen and undergraduates as well as experts) information on interferometry and I hope that Wikipedia will help to remedy that. Plmoknijb 09:27, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

I have performed an extensive cleanup of the structure of this article to increase readability. I hope this is now in order to add some important information to the section and expand some of the topics into other articles. Some of my additions also reduced the pov towards astronomical interferometry to make the article more general. Chtirrell 19:20, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

I have moved nearly all the material from here to Optical Interferometry and have tidied it up. I have moved the material about Astronomical Optical Interferometry to a new page. I hope to add some more information about specific optical interferometers to ths Optical Interferometry page but also hope that others will do so. There a re a vast range of applications out there, and they should be here!! Also, it would be good to have pages on other sorts of interferometry. EPZCAW 27th April 2008

SAR Interferometry

I think that one could mention SAR interferometry or InSAR. It's an assesed technique for building Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and/or crustal deformation maps from airborne or spaceborne radar sensors. SAR stands for Synthetic Aperture Radar

Promo link?

I have removed the following link from this article:


It is intentionally unlinked as I believe the inserter is intending to promote his/her product. The contents of the PDF lead into a promotion of a product. I am listing it here for others to review, however, because it does contain other information that might be useful. I leave it to others to determine whether it should be included. --AbsolutDan (talk) 16:45, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Description of astronomical interferometry.

The citation "Description of astronomical interferometry." is repeated. I'm not familiar enough with wikipedia to edit out citations myself.

Article Rating, Expansion, rewording, Talk page Archiving

I dont know if i am sticking my nose in out of my depth here here, but i was quite surprised that (as far as i am aware) a quite fundamentally important piece of physics set up has such a small article - and in my opinion slightly sketchy on some of the wording - for example:

two waves with the same frequency that have the same phase will add to each other while two waves that have opposite phase will subtract.

Surely it is not only badly formed but misleading to say the waves subtract? And what would that subtraction mean?

So yeah, i am going to have a bash at rewording a bit here and there if that is ok? I have rated the article as important, but a stub.

BTW looks like most of this talk page relates to other articles or stuff that must have been removed from this article. Presumably it might be a good idea to archive this page a bit?

Not sure how to do that but i might have a look soon.

--Wideofthemark (talk) 23:14, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

General Comprehensibility

I spend quite a bit of spare time reading current science articles and some background research; I learned and understood most of the basic principles of physics and a few more when I was in full-time education; and I even used to understand the basic concept behind how an interferometer system works. I even remember there being a television special, probably something on the Discovery Channel, that discussed how you could use a few satellites working in tandem to create a telescope with a resolution on par with a single telescope that was Earth-sized.

But it's been a while and I couldn't remember the concept, and so when I was reminded of it I went to the Wikipedia article on interferometry. And I was surprised and disappointed to find that it is written in such specialist terms and in such impenetrable language as to be completely unreadable to me as someone who is not a science professional or formally science-educated beyond a basic University level. Apart from simply the tone ("aforementioned" in the first sentence? Come on...), the article relies on ill-explained initial terms (click "phase," which is what you have to do to understand the article, and you get, "The phase of an oscillation or wave is the fraction of a complete cycle corresponding to an offset in the displacement from a specified reference point at time t = 0." That's not a lay-readable encyclopedia entry).

But worstly, the entry discusses an abstract concept in jargonistic geometrical terms that should not be necessary to explain the concept. Any of you who have been working on the article: give a smart friend/roommate/whoever is around the "imagine interferometry" paragraph to read. You'll end up explaining it to them in a much more accessible manner when talking to them, not using two sets of axis labels mathematically translating something that looks to the reader like a Cartesian space into something not explained called (the Fourier domain). See how does it ( )

I think this talk page is fretting about details that should be fretted about after the article starts performing its supposed basic aim, which is to explain its subject to an audience that doesn't already know its subject.

Would there be a way for some of you more knowledgeable editors to replace the Fourier domain point of view with its u's and v's into something more concrete? I think the current approach is keeping the article from being viable for more general consumption. ArthurPhilipDent (talk) 22:49, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

+1 The intro mentions that interferometry can be used to figure out properties of a wave, but it doesn't mention what properties can be determined. Adding such information would improve this article. Building on this, one could discuss some of the applications of interferometry e.g. determining the motion of distant stars (this is just a made up example; I'm not sure interferometry can be used to do this). Danielx (talk) 01:32, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Wow, such a lame article

I could add to it, having spent years doing interferometry. But I'd rather not, because I'm tired of all the wiki editors and wiki lawyers imposing upon others what should be counted as encyclopedic and requiring articles passing their editorial muster. Maybe they can contribute to this article, given that they seem to know everything. I probably wouldn't add enough citations to satisfy them anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:45, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

incorrect citation

the citation under Further reading: Hariharan, P. (2003). Optical Interferometry (2nd edition ed.). San Diego, USA: Academic Press. offers a downloadable PDF, but the PDF does not correspond to the citation. The PDF is "Optical interferometry in astronomy" by John D Monnier

Netrapt (talk) 14:49, 16 April 2010 (UTC)

Corrected and converted into in-line reference. Thank you. Materialscientist (talk) 00:27, 17 April 2010 (UTC)