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A common-path heterodyne interferometer is proposed to determine the surface anchoring energy of a homogeneously aligned nematic liquid crystal (LC). This technique measures, with high sensitivity, the phase retardation of a nematic LC cell as a function of the applied voltage. According to the measured voltage-dependent phase retardation of the LC cells, a simple linear fitting over a well-specified voltage window can be achieved, leading to a precise determination of the polar anchoring energy. The anchoring energy , cell gap, and pretilt angle can be simultaneously obtained in the course of the same experiment.