Abstract

We describe an adaptive optical system for use as a tunable focusing element. The system provides adaptive beam shaping via controlled thermal lensing in the optical elements. The system is agile, remotely controllable, touch free, and vacuum compatible; it offers a wide dynamic range, aberration-free focal length tuning, and can provide both positive and negative lensing effects. Focusing is obtained through dynamic heating of an optical element by an external pump beam. The system is especially suitable for use in interferometric gravitational wave interferometers employing high laser power, allowing for in situ control of the laser modal properties and compensation for thermal lensing of the primary laser. Using CO2 laser heating of fused-silica substrates, we demonstrate a focal length variable from infinity to 4.0  m, with a slope of 0.082 diopter∕W of absorbed heat. For on-axis operation, no higher-order modes are introduced by the adaptive optical element. Theoretical modeling of the induced optical path change and predicted thermal lens agrees well with measurement.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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