This paper proposes a modified Shack–Hartmann wavefront sensor for phase retrieval. The sensor is revamped by placing a detector at a defocused plane before the focal plane of the lenslet array of the Shack–Hartmann sensor. The algorithm for phase retrieval is an optimization with initial Zernike coefficients calculated by the conventional phase reconstruction of the Shack–Hartmann sensor. Numerical simulations show that the proposed sensor permits sensitive, accurate phase retrieval. Furthermore, experiments tested the feasibility of phase retrieval using the proposed sensor. The surface irregularity for a flat mirror was measured by the proposed method and a Veeco interferometer, respectively. The irregularity for the mirror measured by the proposed method is in very good agreement with that measured using the Veeco interferometer.
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