Abstract

Obtaining true and beautiful data from any photon correlation experiment demands serious attention to optimizing both the measuring system and experimental conditions. The laser must have sufficient power, be stable under all likely conditions, and usually be restricted to a single transverse mode. The beam-delivery optics must be carefully designed, built, and verified. The scattering medium must contain a proper concentration of suitably sized scatterers with appropriate characteristics. Surfaces surrounding the point of measurement must not introduce optical noise. Flare reduction in the receiver optics may be improved with ghost analysis, spatial and spectral filtering, and careful choice of stops, baffles, and surface coatings. The photon detector must have adequate speed and sensitivity with suitably low internal correlations and noise. The choice of correlator is crucial. Sometimes the equipment must be small to reach inaccessible places. Performance may be compromised by thermal, mechanical, or electrical instabilities caused by exposure to environmental excesses. Errors may even be introduced by preprocessing hardware and software before proper information is extracted. With so many conditions and potential problems, how does one obtain beautiful data, leading to correct results and enlightening information? That is the focus of our work.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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