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Optical Metrology

Definition: the science and technology of performing measurements with light

German: optische Metrologie

Category: optical metrology

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Optical metrology is the science and technology concerning measurements with light. Such measurements can either target properties of light and light sources or properties of objects such as dimensions, distances and temperatures. There is no strict boundary between those fields, because often one uses measured properties of light not just to characterize a light source, but for other purposes – for example, optical frequency metrology is used for ultraprecise optical clocks.

Some examples of optical metrology are:

Typical Qualities of Optical Metrology

In many cases, optical metrology can be extremely precise and is ultimately limited by laser noise or quantum noise in detection.

Optical measurements are usually quite fast and suitable e.g. for in-process metrology, i.e., for monitoring industrial production processes.

Generally, optical measurements are non-destructive. Even very sensitive parts can be checked without touching them (non-contact methods), i.e., without a risk of damage.


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 39 suppliers for optical metrology equipment. Among them:

See also: frequency metrology, optical clocks, interferometers, distance measurements with lasers, optical profilometers, laser noise, spectrometers, wavemeters, radiometry, photometry
and other articles in the category optical metrology

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