We report a novel method of focus determination with high sensitivity and submicrometre accuracy. The technique relies on the asymmetry in the scattered far field from a nanosphere located at the surface of interest. The out-of-focus displacement of the probing beam manifests itself in imbalance of the signal of the differential detector located at the far field. Up-down scanning of the focussed field renders an error S-curve with a linear region that is slightly bigger than the corresponding vectorial Rayleigh range. We experimentally show that the focus can be determined not only for a surface with high optical contrast, such as a silicon wafer, but also for a weakly reflecting surface, such as fused silica glass. Further, for the probing wavelength of 405 nm, three sizes of polystyrene latex spheres, namely 200, 100, and 50 nm in diameter, are tested. Higher sensitivity was obtained as the sphere diameter became smaller. However, due to the fact that the scattering cross-section decreases as the sixth power of the nanosphere diameter, we envision that further size reduction of the studied sphere would not contribute to a drastic improvement in sensitivity. We believe that the proposed method can find applications in bio/nano detection, micromachining, and optical disk applications.
- coherent Fourier scatterometry
- focus determination
- nanoparticle at surface
- sensitive method