Simple heterodyne laser interferometer with subnanometer periodic errors

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We describe a simple heterodyne laser interferometer that has subnanometer periodic errors and is applicable to industrial fields. Two spatially separated beams can reduce the periodic errors, and the use of a right-angle prism makes the optical configuration much simpler than previous interferometers. Moreover, the optical resolution can be enhanced by a factor of 2, because the phase change direction is opposite between reference and measurement signals. Experiments have demonstrated the periodic errors are less than 0.15 nm owing to the frequency mixing of the optical source. The improvements for reducing the frequency mixing of the optical system are also discussed.