This study presents an optical assembly and digital reconstruction method that is based on digital holography for characterizing transparent objects. The image-plane optical setup is based on a versatile Mach-Zehnder interferometer for the formation of controlled parallel fringe patterns, of tens micrometers of separations or less. The numerical reconstruction of the propagated wavefront by the hologram is performed by the Fresnel-Kirchhoff transform, and it is used of three ways: (a) interferometric phase reconstruction (as in interferometry) in the phase object position, (b) reconstruction of the wavefront amplitude at a determined distance from the object (shadowgraph technique), and (c) a composed digital reconstruction process of the wavefront amplitude, defined by a digital optical assembly for the selection of angular deflections produced by the phase object (schlieren technique). The resolving power of holographic reconstruction methodology proposed is determined by the sensitivity of hologram for detecting the interferometric phase. The fringe pattern of the hologram defines a minimum phase shift resolution of 0.15π rad. The scope of the technique is experimentally tested for a steady-state phase object.
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