The liquid-crystal wave-front scanner (LCWS) is a highly sensitive wave-front sensor suited to the measurement of aberrations in optical systems and, more generally, of static wave fronts, and it is based on the Hartmann test. In the LCWS an incoming wave front is scanned sequentially by a programmable moving aperture that is implemented by use of a liquid-crystal display. The position of the diffraction spot is recorded behind an observation lens with a CCD detector and provides an estimation of the local slopes in two orthogonal directions at the aperture position. The wave front is then reconstructed from slope data by use of a least-squares method. Experiments are reported for nearly planar wave fronts as well as for strongly aberrated wave fronts, demonstrating both the large dynamic range and the great sensitivity of the LCWS. The LCWS is compared with the Shack–Hartmann wave-front sensor in terms of dynamic range and sensitivity.
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