Adaptive optical systems for laser beam projection onto an extended target embedded in an optically inhomogeneous medium are considered. A new adaptive optics wavefront control technique--speckle-average (SA) phase conjugation--is introduced. In this technique mitigation of speckle effects related to laser beam scattering off the rough target surface is achieved by measuring the SA wavefront slopes of the target return wave using a conventional Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor. For statistically representative speckle averaging we consider the generation of an incoherent light source, referred to here as a Collett-Wolf beacon, directly on the target surface using a rapid steering (scanning) auxiliary laser beam. Our numerical simulations and experiment show that control of the outgoing beam phase using SA phase conjugation can lead to efficient compensation of turbulence effects and results in an increase of the projected laser beam power density on a remote extended target. The impact of both target anisoplanatism and the Collett-Wolf beacon size on adaptive system performance is studied.
© 2008 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article