A two-rotating-prism system is an inexpensive lightweight two-dimensional beam steering device. It can be designed to be achromatic over a wide spectral range. However, the current two-prism achromatic design has a singularity problem at the center of the “field of view”: if a beam is to be steered through the center, one of the prisms must make an instantaneous 90° flip. In our work we proposed a solution to this problem by adding a third prism to the system. The main thrust of this study was optimization of the apparatus by minimizing dispersion effects as well as predicting the theoretical speed and manner in which the beam may be steered.
A spatial light modulator, which is capable of high-resolution wavefront compensation and high accuracy beam steering, has been demonstrated using a Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) microdisplay with 1024×768 XGA resolution. When the device is used as a wavefront corrector, about 18.7 waves (peak-to-valley at 632.8nm) of aberration in the optical system is corrected to a residual of 1/9 wave (peak to valley) or 1/30 wave rms. Measurement of the far field beam profile confirmed the strehl ratio improved from 0.006 with the wavefront correction off, to a strehl ratio of 0.83 after correction. An additional linear phase ramp was added to the correction phase ramp to simultaneously correct and steer the laser beam. We demonstrated we can steer the beam continuously in the range of ±4 mrad in X-Y plane, with a steering accuracy better than 10μrad, or about 1/10 the diffraction limited beam divergence. The quality of the steered beam remains very high during the steering as the ellipticity of beam is smaller than 1±0.04, focused beam waist is 1.3x the diffraction limited beam waist and strehl ratio remains higher than 0.66. The 1-D beam steering efficiency is 80% at the maximum steering angle of 4 mrad, which agrees very well with our Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulation result of diffraction efficiency 86% at maximum steering angle. These results suggest that an LCOS device can be used to achieve very high-resolution wavefront control at very high efficiency.