Since its initial development in the early 1970s, spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) has become the primary technique for determining optical properties of materials. In addition to the other historic role of ellipsometry, determining film thicknesses, SE is now widely used to obtain intrinsic and structural properties of homogeneous and inhomogeneous materials in bulk and thin-film form, including properties of surfaces and interfaces. Its nondestructive capability for determining critical dimensions has made SE indispensible in integrated-circuits technology. The present work is aimed at those who are unfamiliar with SE but may feel that it could provide useful information in specific situations. Accordingly, the author gives some background and basic theory, and then illustrates capabilities with various applications. Coverage of the topic is necessarily limited, but references to more complete treatments are provided.

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