Wavefront aberrations can be represented accurately by a number of Zernike polynomials. We develop a method to retrieve small-phase aberrations from a single far-field image with a Zernike modal-based approach. The difference between a single measured image with aberration and a calibrated image with inherent aberration is used in the calculation process. In this paper, the principle of linear phase retrieval is introduced in a vector–matrix format, which is a kind of linear calculation and is suitable for real-time calculation. The results of numerical simulations on atmosphere-disturbed phase aberrations show that the proposed Zernike modal-based linear phase retrieval method works well when the rms of phase error is less than 1 rad, and it is valid in a noise condition when the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)>3.
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