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The generation of a random intensity distribution, called a speckle pattern, when light from a highly coherent source, such as a laser, is scattered by a rough surface or inhomogeneous medium. See Laser

The surfaces of most materials are extremely rough on the scale of an optical wavelength (approximately 5 × 10-7 m). When nearly monochromatic light is reflected from such a surface, the optical wave resulting at any moderately distant point consists of many coherent wavelets, each arising from a different microscopic element of the surface. Since the distances traveled by these various wavelets may differ by several wavelengths if the surface is truly rough, the interference of the wavelets of various phases results in the granular pattern of intensity called speckle. If a surface is imaged with a perfectly corrected optical system, diffraction causes a spread of the light at an image point, so that the intensity at a given image point results from the coherent addition of contributions from many independent surface areas. As long as the diffraction-limited point-spread function of the imaging system is broad by comparison with the microscopic surface variations, many dephased coherent contributions add at each image point to give a speckle pattern.

The basic random interference phenomenon underlying laser speckle exists for sources other than lasers. For example, it explains radar “clutter,” results for scattering of x-rays by liquids, and electron scattering by amorphous carbon films. Speckle theory also explains why twinkling may be observed for stars, but not for planets. See Coherence, Diffraction, Interference of waves

In metrology, the most obvious application of speckle is to the measurement of surface roughness. If a speckle pattern is produced by coherent light incident on a rough surface, then surely the speckle pattern, or at least the statistics of the speckle pattern, must depend upon the detailed surface properties. An application of growing importance in engineering is the use of speckle patterns in the study of object displacements, vibration, and distortion that arise in nondestructive testing of mechanical components.

Astronomical speckle interferometry is a technique for obtaining spatial information on astronomical objects at the diffraction-limited resolution of a telescope, despite the presence of atmospheric turbulence. Speckle interferometry techniques have proven to be an invaluable tool for astronomical research, allowing studies of a wide range of scientifically interesting problems. They have been widely used to determine the separation and position angle of binary stars, and for accurate diameter measurements of a large number of stars, planets, and asteroids. Speckle imaging techniques have successfully uncovered details in the morphology of a range of astronomical objects, including the Sun, planets, asteroids, cool giants and supergiants, young stellar objects, the supernova SN1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Seyfert galaxies, and quasars. See Interferometry


A phenomenon in which the scattering of light from a highly coherent source, such as a laser, by a rough surface or inhomogeneous medium generates a random-intensity distribution of light that gives the surface or medium a granular appearance.
References in periodicals archive ?
Demand for both Abbot and Old Speckled has also surged in recent months following a sustained marketing campaign by the company.
Police last night urged any members of the public in possession of Speckled Rolex tablets to dispose of them immediately and safely.
And the Christy Rochetrained mare would be a poignant winner for owner JP McManus (above) less than a week after Speckled Wood's dam, high-class racemare Like-A-Burrerfly (winner of 12 of her 17 starts) died soon after giving birth to her fourth foal, by Yeats.
Within beer sales, the rate of growth at Greene King IPA and Abbot Ale slowed to 4% and 3% while Old Speckled Hen went from 6% to 7%.
Despite no repeat of the summer heatwave, the company said volume sales of Greene King IPA rose 3% and Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen both increased by 2%.
Leading the way, Greene King's Old Speckled Hen continues to outperform the market and is growing at rate of 23.
On a stellar scale, hydrogen-gas clouds speckled with dirty carbon grit drift between stars, blocking light, soaking up heat, and emitting characteristic radiation.
A central scroll, speckled and embossed with earth and rock fragments, was flanked by two sepia-colored photographs of the historic cliff dwellings.
The waters surround pre-Columbian Indian mounds of the ancient Calusa civilization while harboring schools of redfish, speckled trout, kingfish, snook and tarpon.
White coffee table, pounds 185, Very; black speckled glass bowl, pounds 15, Tesco.
The maker of Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen added that business had been 'encouraging' since October, with beer sales maintaining their growth along with higher returns from its pubs estate.
Anand said his policy of refusing to discount Old Speckled Hen in the multiples had contributed to its 14.