It has been stated1-2 that laser-induced damage to dielectric thin films is caused by the presence of defects of the order of 1 µm in dimension located in the thin film or at the film-substrate interface. Impurities are one type of defect, but another type might be the nonstoichiometric regions of the coating. In an attempt to establish further the existence of these defects and their relationship to laser-induced damage, we have adopted two optical characterization techniques capable of measuring optical absorption and stress-induced birefringence with high sensitivity and high spatial resolution. These techniques are the mirage effect3 and photoelastic modulation ellipsometry.4

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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