We derive the behavior of the average exit time (i.e., the number of reflections before escape) of a ray path traveling between two perfect mirrors subject to dynamic random-tilt aberrations. Our calculation is performed in the paraxial approximation. When small random tilts are taken into account, we may consider an asymptotic regime that generically reduces the problem to the study of the exit time from an interval for a harmonic, frictionless oscillator driven by Gaussian white noise. Despite its apparent simplicity, the exact solution of this problem remains an open mathematical challenge, and we propose here a simple approximation scheme. For flat mirrors, the natural frequency of the oscillator vanishes, and, in this case, the average exit time is known exactly. It exhibits a 2/3 scaling-law behavior in terms of the variance of the random tilts. This behavior also follows from our approximation scheme, which establishes the consistency of the scaling law. Our mathematical results are confirmed with simulation experiments.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
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