Abstract

The performance of ground-based optical imaging systems is severely degraded from the diffraction limit by the random effects of the atmosphere. Adaptive-optics techniques have been used to compensate for atmospheric-turbulence effects. A critical component in the adaptive-optics system is the wave-front sensor. At present, two types of sensors are common: the Hartmann–Shack wave-front sensor and the shearing interferometer wave-front sensor. In this paper we make a direct performance comparison of these two sensors. The performance calculations are restricted to common configurations of these two sensors and the fundamental limits imposed by shot noise and atmospheric effects. These two effects encompass the effects of extended reference beacons and sensor subaperture spacings larger than the Fried parameter r 0. Our results indicate comparable performance for good seeing conditions and small beacons. However, for poor seeing conditions and extended beacons, the Hartmann sensor has lower error levels than the shearing interferometer.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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