In this paper Fresnel diffraction of light from 1-dimensional and circular steps in reflection and transmission modes is theoretically and experimentally studied. The study shows that the diffraction pattern from each side of a step resembles the diffraction pattern from a semi infinite obstacle, but the visibility of fringes is a sensitive periodic function of the step height and the incident angle. This sensitive dependence can be exploited as a useful means for measuring the film thickeness, the refraction index and small displacements of objects in a manner easier and more precise that one can manage by the conventional interferometric methods.


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