A homogenizing light pipe provides an avenue of altering the spatial coherence properties of a laser source for the purpose of reducing speckle in an active imaging scenario. In this study, an efficient coherent mode decomposition was used to characterize the effect of a light pipe on the coherence properties of an input beam. The waveguide was found to reduce the global degree of coherence of the input beam in a manner which made the beam more suitable as an illuminator for speckle free imaging. The beam exiting the waveguide was found to contain a banded mutual coherence function due to the strong presence of symmetry within the setup. A formula for predicting the speckle contrast in the presence of these bands is proposed in the paper and appears to show great agreement with simulated results. The efficient propagation method and speckle contrast formula presented in the paper should be useful in designing an optimal active illumination source for reducing speckle.
This paper develops wave-optics simulations which explore the estimation accuracy of digital-holographic detection for wavefront sensing in the presence of distributed-volume or “deep” turbulence and detection noise. Specifically, the analysis models spherical-wave propagation through varying deep-turbulence conditions along a horizontal propagation path and formulates the field-estimated Strehl ratio as a function of the diffraction-limited sampling quotient and signal-to-noise ratio. Such results will allow the reader to assess the number of pixels, pixel field of view, pixel-well depth, and read-noise standard deviation needed from a focal-plane array when using digital-holographic detection in the off-axis image plane recording geometry for deep-turbulence wavefront sensing.
Digital holography in the pupil-plane recording geometry shows promise as a wavefront sensor for use in adaptive-optics systems. Because current wavefront sensors suffer from decreased performance in the presence of turbulence and thermal blooming, there is a need for a more robust wavefront sensor in such distributed-volume atmospheric conditions. Digital holography fulfills this roll by accurately estimating the wrapped phase of the complex optical field after propagation through the atmosphere to the pupil plane of an optical system. This paper examines wave-optics simulations of spherical-wave propagation through both turbulence and thermal blooming; it also quantifies the performance of digital holography as a wavefront sensor by generating field-estimated Strehl ratios as a function of the number of pixels in the detector array, the Rytov number, and the Fried coherence diameter. Altogether the results indicate that digital holography wavefront sensing in the pupil-plane recording geometry is a valid and accurate method for estimating the wrapped phase of the complex optical field in the presence of distributed-volume atmospheric aberrations.
Active illumination is often used when passive illumination cannot produce enough signal intensity to be a reliable imaging method. However, an increase in signal intensity is often achieved by using highly coherent laser sources, which produce undesirable effects such as speckle and scintillation. The deleterious effects of speckle and scintillation are often so immense that the imaging camera cannot receive intelligible data, thereby rendering the active illumination technique useless. By reducing the spatial coherence of the laser beam that is actively illuminating the object, it is possible to reduce the corruption of the received data caused by speckle and scintillation. The waveguide method discussed in this paper reduces spatial coherence through multiple total internal reflections, which create multiple virtual sources of diverse path lengths. The differing path lengths between the virtual sources and the target allow for the temporal coherence properties of the laser to be translated into spatial coherence properties. The resulting partial spatial coherence helps to mitigate the self-interference of the beam as it travels through the atmosphere and reflects off of optically rough targets. This mitigation method results in a cleaner, intelligible image that may be further processed for the intended use, unlike its unmitigated counterpart. Previous research has been done to independently reduce speckle or scintillation by way of spatial incoherence, but there has been no focus on modeling the waveguide, specifically the image plane the waveguide creates. Utilizing a ray-tracing method we can determine the coherence length of the source necessary to create incoherent spots in the image plane, as well as accurately modeling the image plane.