A simple step‐by‐step procedure, including several novel techniques discussed in the Appendices, is given for minimizing ac phase noise in typical interferometric systems such as two‐beam interferometers, holographic setups, four‐wave mixers, etc. Special attention is given to index of refraction fluctuations, direct mechanical coupling, and acoustic coupling, whose importance in determining ac phase noise in interferometric systems has not been adequately treated. The minimization procedure must be carried out while continuously monitoring the phase noise which can be done very simply by using a photodiode measurement of the interferometer output. Supplementary measurements using a microphone and accelerometer will also be helpful in identifying the sources of phase noise. Emphasis is placed on new techniques or new modifications of older techniques which will not usually be familiar to most workers in optics. Thus, the necessity of eliminating the effects of index of refraction fluctuations which degrade the performance of all interferometers is pointed out as the first priority. A substantial decrease of the effects of all vibrating, rotating, or flowing masses (e.g., cooling lines) in direct contact with the optical table will also have to be carefully carried out regardless of the type of interferometric system employed.
It is recommended that this be followed by a simple, inexpensive change to a novel type of interferometer discussed in Appendix A which is inherently less sensitive to mechanical vibration. Such a change will lead to a reduction of both low‐frequency and high‐frequency ac phase noise by more than an order of magnitude and can be carried out for all interferometers with the exception of multiple pass optical systems and high‐resolution FFT spectrometers. It is pointed out that most homemade air bladder vibration isolators are used incorrectly and do not provide sufficient reduction in the contribution of floor vibrations to phase noise. Several simple trampoline‐type air bladder vibration isolator systems are described which are comparable in performance to commercial systems. With the exception of very nonrigid or undamped optical tables, the dominant source of ac phase noise at this point will usually be due to acoustic coupling to the optical components and mounts themselves. This means not only that the optical components and mounts must be rigid but that the mechanical coupling between the table and the mounts, as well as the coupling between the mounts and components themselves, be as rigid as possible.
An additional damping of optical mounts beyond that generally found in commercial mountings will also have to be carried out to obtain a further reduction of phase noise. A simple damping technique employing an additional mass and an intermediate damping layer is described which will significantly improve the performance of both homemade and commercial optical mounts. Similar damping techniques which are especially suitable for homemade optical tables and breadboards are also considered.