Adaptable Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor with diffractive lenslet arrays to mitigate the effects of scintillation
Adaptive optics systems are used to compensate for distortions of the wavefront of light induced by turbulence in the atmosphere. Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensors are used to measure this wavefront distortion before correction. However, in turbulence conditions where strong scintillation (intensity fluctuation) is present, these sensors show considerably worse performance. This is partly because the lenslet arrays of the sensor are designed without regard to scintillation and are not adaptable to changes in turbulence strength. Therefore, we have developed an adaptable Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor that can flexibly exchange its lenslet array by relying on diffractive lenses displayed on a spatial light modulator instead of utilizing a physical microlens array. This paper presents the principle of the sensor, the design of a deterministic turbulence simulation test-bed, and an analysis how different lenslet arrays perform in scintillation conditions. Our experiments with different turbulence conditions showed that it is advantageous to increase the lenslet size when scintillation is present. The residual phase variance for an array with 24 lenslets was up to 71% lower than for a 112 lenslet array. This shows that the measurement error of focal spots has a strong influence on the performance of a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor and that in many cases it makes sense to increase the lenslet size. With our adaptable wavefront sensor such changes in lenslet configurations can be done very quickly and flexibly.