Abstract

Optical wave propagation through long paths of extended turbulence presents unique challenges to adaptive optics (AO) systems. As scintillation and branch points develop in the beacon phase, challenges arise in accurately unwrapping the received wavefront and optimizing the reconstructed phase with respect to branch cut placement on a continuous facesheet deformable mirror. Several applications are currently restricted by these capability limits: laser communication, laser weapons, remote sensing, and ground-based astronomy. This paper presents a set of temporally evolving AO simulations comparing traditional least-squares reconstruction techniques to a complex-exponential reconstructor and several other reconstructors derived from the postprocessing congruence operation. The reconstructors’ behavior in closed-loop operation is compared and discussed, providing several insights into the fundamental strengths and limitations of each reconstructor type. This research utilizes a self-referencing interferometer (SRI) as the high-order wavefront sensor, driving a traditional linear control law in conjunction with a cooperative point source beacon. The SRI model includes practical optical considerations and frame-by-frame fiber coupling effects to allow for realistic noise modeling. The “LSPV+7” reconstructor is shown to offer the best performance in terms of Strehl ratio and correction stability—outperforming the traditional least-squares reconstructed system by an average of 120% in the studied scenarios. Utilizing a continuous facesheet deformable mirror, these reconstructors offer significant AO performance improvements in strong turbulence applications without the need for segmented deformable mirrors.

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