Abstract

Experimental and theoretical work has shown that atmospheric turbulence can exhibit “non-Kolmogorov” behavior including anisotropy and modifications of the classically accepted spatial power spectral slope, 11/3. In typical horizontal scenarios, atmospheric anisotropy implies that the variations in the refractive index are more spatially correlated in both horizontal directions than in the vertical. In this work, we extend Gaussian beam theory for propagation through Kolmogorov turbulence to the case of anisotropic turbulence along the horizontal direction. We also study the effects of different spatial power spectral slopes on the beam propagation. A description is developed for the average beam intensity profile, and the results for a range of scenarios are demonstrated for the first time with a wave optics simulation and a spatial light modulator-based laboratory benchtop counterpart. The theoretical, simulation, and benchtop intensity profiles show good agreement and illustrate that an elliptically shaped beam profile can develop upon propagation. For stronger turbulent fluctuation regimes and larger anisotropies, the theory predicts a slightly more elliptical form of the beam than is generated by the simulation or benchtop setup. The theory also predicts that without an outer scale limit, the beam width becomes unbounded as the power spectral slope index α approaches a maximum value of 4. This behavior is not seen in the simulation or benchtop results because the numerical phase screens used for these studies do not model the unbounded wavefront tilt component implied in the analytic theory.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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