A new Ultra Precision Interferometer for absolute length measurements down to cryogenic temperatures
A new Ultra Precision Interferometer (UPI) was built at Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt. As its precursor, the precision interferometer, it was designed for highly precise absolute length measurements of prismatic bodies, e.g. gauge blocks, under well-defined temperature conditions and pressure, making use of phase stepping imaging interferometry. The UPI enables a number of enhanced features, e.g. it is designed for a much better lateral resolution and better temperature stability. In addition to the original concept, the UPI is equipped with an external measurement pathway (EMP) in which a prismatic body can be placed alternatively. The temperature of the EMP can be controlled in a much wider range compared to the temperature of the interferometer's main chamber. An appropriate cryostat system, a precision temperature measurement system and improved imaging interferometry were established to permit absolute length measurements down to cryogenic temperature, demonstrated for the first time ever. Results of such measurements are important for studying thermal expansion of materials from room temperature towards less than 10 K.