adaptive optics

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Adaptive optics

The science of optical systems in which a controllable optical element, usually a deformable mirror, is used to optimize the performance of the system, for example, to maintain a sharply focused image in the presence of wavefront aberrations. A distinction is made between active optics, in which optical components are modified or adjusted by external control to compensate slowly changing disturbances, and adaptive optics, which applies to closed-loop feedback systems employing sensors and data processors, operating at much higher frequencies.

In a typical adaptive optics system (see illustration) the distorted light beam to be compensated is reflected from the deformable mirror and is sampled by a beam splitter. The light sample is analyzed in a wavefront sensor that determines the error in each part of the beam. The required corrections are computed and applied to the deformable mirror whose surface forms the shape necessary to flatten the reflected wavefront. The result is to remove the optical error at the sampling point so that the light passing through the beam splitter may be focused to a sharp image. Nonlinear optical devices are also capable of performing some adaptive optics functions; these devices operate at high optical power levels. See Aberration (optics), Geometrical optics, Nonlinear optics

Typical adaptive optics system using discrete componentsenlarge picture
Typical adaptive optics system using discrete components

The practical development of adaptive optics started in the late 1960s. Its main applications have been to compensate for the effects of atmospheric turbulence in ground-based astronomical telescopes and to improve the beam quality of high-power lasers. Adaptive optics is now used routinely at several astronomical observatories.

adaptive optics

The techniques by which corrections may be made very rapidly (within hundredths of a second) to the shape of a mirror in order to adjust for distortions in a telescope image arising from turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere. The effects of seeing on the image are thus greatly reduced or removed. Adaptive optics are being applied to new and modernized telescopes to increase the sensitivity and spatial resolution of the telescope, and should allow near-diffraction-limited imaging over the full aperture of large optical and infrared telescopes (see Airy disk). Techniques have been developed to monitor the atmospheric disturbance on the image of a bright reference star, or on an artificial reference star (or beacon), and to make rapid compensating adjustments to the shape of a small thin deformable mirror in the light path of the telescope. See also active optics.

adaptive optics

[ə′dap·tiv ′äp·tiks]
The theory and design of optical systems that measure and correct wavefront aberrations in real time, that is, simultaneous with the operation of the system.
References in periodicals archive ?
Advancements in the modulation and interrogation of a wavefront offer increased speed and reduced cost, leading to growth in the demand for the adaptive optics technology.
Adaptive optics arose primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Air Force Space Command expressed interest in imaging objects in space, not only to identify objects, but also to monitor and correct satellite operating deficiencies.
It uses adaptive optics so telescopes can see into space better.
The Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager is the first adaptive optics system designed solely to image planets.
Adaptive optics worked first for smaller telescopes.
In the heart of County Durham, a team of researchers is working in the frontier science of adaptive optics ( a world that links microsurgery to the furthest stars.
The Ohio native spent his career conducting research on the physics of propagation of light through atmospheric turbulence and a technique called laser guidestar adaptive optics that corrects distortion caused by the atmosphere.
The FOL's fixed reflective beam collimator and CNC controlled adaptive optics provide fast and consistent cutting of a variety of thicknesses from thin sheets to 1/2" thick steel plate.
Researchers hope the sophisticated adaptive optics system will save the sight of patients in the future.
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) said the optical-infrared telescope located on Hawaii Island's 4,205-meter Mauna Kea confirmed the binary system near HD 130948A, a bright fixed star some 58 light years from Earth, with its adaptive optics (AO) system last May.
With adaptive optics, those blobs suddenly sharpened, stilled and hardened.
Using adaptive optics (AO), the same technology astronomers use to study distant stars and galaxies, scientists can see through the murky distortion of the outer eye, revealing the eye's cellular structure with unprecedented detail.

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