Abstract

Estimation of the wavefront from measured slope values is an essential step in a Shack–Hartmann-type wavefront sensor. Using an appropriate estimation algorithm, these measured slopes are converted into wavefront phase values. Hence, accuracy in wavefront estimation lies in proper interpretation of these measured slope values using the chosen estimation algorithm. There are two important sources of errors associated with the wavefront estimation process, namely, the slope measurement error and the algorithm discretization error. The former type is due to the noise in the slope measurements or to the detector centroiding error, and the latter is a consequence of solving equations of a basic estimation algorithm adopted onto a discrete geometry. These errors deserve particular attention, because they decide the preference of a specific estimation algorithm for wavefront estimation. In this paper, we investigate these two important sources of errors associated with the wavefront estimation algorithms of Shack–Hartmann-type wavefront sensors. We consider the widely used Southwell algorithm and the recently proposed Pathak–Boruah algorithm [J. Opt. 16, 055403 (2014) [CrossRef]  ] and perform a comparative study between the two. We find that the latter algorithm is inherently superior to the Southwell algorithm in terms of the error propagation performance. We also conduct experiments that further establish the correctness of the comparative study between the said two estimation algorithms.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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