Proc. SPIE. 9979, Laser Communication and Propagation through the Atmosphere and Oceans V
KEYWORDS: Oscillators, Mode locking, High power lasers, Laser applications, Laser beam propagation, Fiber lasers, Directed energy weapons, High power fiber amplifiers, Atmospheric turbulence, Atmospheric propagation
To achieve the power levels necessary for directed energy applications with fiber or slab lasers, it is necessary to combine multiple lasers into a single beam director. Here we compare the performance of incoherent and coherent beam combining strategies and address three important issues that should be considered before a beam combining architecture is implemented. First, we consider the difficulty in phase locking high-power fiber and slab lasers. The large linewidths of high-power fiber and slab lasers induce random phase fluctuations occurring on sub-nanosecond time scales. To coherently combine these high-power lasers can involve rapid and precise phase control to compensate for these fluctuations. Even with a master oscillator - multiple power amplifier system, the coherence length of the beams to be combined is very short necessitating continuous precise control of optical path lengths. Second, we consider the dephasing effects of atmospheric turbulence. We find that in moderate to strong turbulence conditions and kilometer propagation distances, coherent combining at the transmitter plane has negligible impact on the energy delivered to a target. Finally, we consider the multifaceted task of coherent combining at the target plane. This is effectively an adaptive optics situation in which the distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence are partially compensated for.
A turbulent, atmospheric channel can be considered to be reciprocal at any one instance in time. Reciprocity is a powerful property that can be used to compensate for the distortions caused by turbulence such as beam scintillation, spreading, and wander. Here we investigate the use of reciprocity in instances where a beam is propagated to an uncooperative target. Theoretical work [V. P. Lukin and M. I. Charnotskii , Sov. J. Quantum Electron., 12(5), 602 (1982)] has shown that reciprocity principles indicate that properties of the beam incident on a target fluctuate synchronously with the intensity distribution scattered from the target. Here we extend this purely analytical treatment using phase screen simulations. We show that there exists a correlation between the intensity imaged by the receiver and the field incident on the target. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the intensity at a specific location could be used to drive an adaptive optics system that corrects for atmospheric phase distortions.
A plenoptic camera is a camera that can retrieve the direction and intensity distribution of light rays collected by the camera and allows for multiple reconstruction functions such as: refocusing at a different depth, and for 3D microscopy. Its principle is to add a micro-lens array to a traditional high-resolution camera to form a semi-camera array that preserves redundant intensity distributions of the light field and facilitates back-tracing of rays through geometric knowledge of its optical components. Though designed to process incoherent images, we found that the plenoptic camera shows high potential in solving coherent illumination cases such as sensing both the amplitude and phase information of a distorted laser beam. Based on our earlier introduction of a prototype modified plenoptic camera, we have developed the complete algorithm to reconstruct the wavefront of the incident light field. In this paper the algorithm and experimental results will be demonstrated, and an improved version of this modified plenoptic camera will be discussed. As a result, our modified plenoptic camera can serve as an advanced wavefront sensor compared with traditional Shack- Hartmann sensors in handling complicated cases such as coherent illumination in strong turbulence where interference and discontinuity of wavefronts is common. Especially in wave propagation through atmospheric turbulence, this camera should provide a much more precise description of the light field, which would guide systems in adaptive optics to make intelligent analysis and corrections.
Plenoptic functions are functions that preserve all the necessary light field information of optical events. Theoretical work has demonstrated that geometric based plenoptic functions can serve equally well in the traditional wave propagation equation known as the “scalar stochastic Helmholtz equation”. However, in addressing problems of 3D turbulence simulation, the dominant methods using phase screen models have limitations both in explaining the choice of parameters (on the transverse plane) in real-world measurements, and finding proper correlations between neighboring phase screens (the Markov assumption breaks down). Though possible corrections to phase screen models are still promising, the equivalent geometric approach based on plenoptic functions begins to show some advantages. In fact, in these geometric approaches, a continuous wave problem is reduced to discrete trajectories of rays. This allows for convenience in parallel computing and guarantees conservation of energy. Besides the pairwise independence of simulated rays, the assigned refractive index grids can be directly tested by temperature measurements with tiny thermoprobes combined with other parameters such as humidity level and wind speed. Furthermore, without loss of generality one can break the causal chain in phase screen models by defining regional refractive centers to allow rays that are less affected to propagate through directly. As a result, our work shows that the 3D geometric approach serves as an efficient and accurate method in assessing relevant turbulence problems with inputs of several environmental measurements and reasonable guesses (such as C<sub>n</sub> <sup>2</sup> levels). This approach will facilitate analysis and possible corrections in lateral wave propagation problems, such as image de-blurring, prediction of laser propagation over long ranges, and improvement of free space optic communication systems. In this paper, the plenoptic function model and relevant parallel algorithm computing will be presented, and its primary results and applications are demonstrated.
Enhanced backscatter effects have long been predicted theoretically and experimentally demonstrated. The reciprocity of a turbulent channel generates a group of paired rays with identical trajectory and phase information that leads to a region in phase space with double intensity and scintillation index. Though simulation work based on phase screen models has demonstrated the existence of the phenomenon, few experimental results have been published describing its characteristics, and possible applications of the enhanced backscatter phenomenon are still unclear. With the development of commercially available high powered lasers and advanced cameras with high frame rates, we have successfully captured the enhanced backscatter effects from different reflection surfaces. In addition to static observations, we have also tilted and pre-distorted the transmitted beam at various frequencies to track the dynamic properties of the enhanced backscatter phenomenon to verify its possible application in guidance and beam and image correction through atmospheric turbulence. In this paper, experimental results will be described, and discussions on the principle and applications of the phenomenon will be included. Enhanced backscatter effects are best observed in certain levels of turbulence (C<sub>n</sub> <sup>2</sup>≈10<sup>-13</sup> m<sup>-2/3</sup>), and show significant potential for providing self-guidance in beam correction that doesn’t introduce additional costs (unlike providing a beacon laser). Possible applications of this phenomenon include tracking fast moving object with lasers, long distance (>1km) alignment, and focusing a high-power corrected laser beam over long distances.
Optical beams propagating through the atmosphere acquire phase distortions from turbulent fluctuations in the refractive index. While these distortions are usually deleterious to propagation, beams reflected in a turbulent medium can undergo a local recovery of spatial coherence and intensity enhancement referred to as enhanced backscatter (EBS). Using simulations, we investigate the EBS of optical beams reflected from mirrors, corner cubes, and rough surfaces, and identify the regimes in which EBS is most distinctly observed. Standard EBS detection requires averaging the reflected intensity over many passes through uncorrelated turbulence. Here we present an algorithm called the “tilt-shift method” which allows detection of EBS in static turbulence, improving its suitability for potential applications.