We examine wave-front distortion caused by high-power lasers on transmissive optics using a Shack–Hartmann wave-front sensor. The coupling coefficient for a thermally aberrated Gaussian beam to the TEM00 mode of a cavity was determined as a function of magnitude of the thermally induced aberration. One wave of thermally induced phase aberration between the Gaussian intensity peak and the 1/e2 radius of the intensity profile reduces the power-coupling coefficient to the TEM00 mode of the cavity to 4.5% with no compensation. With optimal focus compensation the power coupling is increased to 79%. The theoretical shape of the thermally induced optical phase aberration is compared with measurements made in a neutral-density filter glass, Faraday glass, and lithium niobate. The agreement between the theoretical and the measured thermal aberration profiles is within the rms wave-front measurement sensitivity of the Shack–Hartmann wave-front sensor, which is a few nanometers.
© 2001 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article