We present a compact optical design for a multireference Shack–Hartmann-based wavefront sensor (WFS) for multiconjugate adaptive optical systems. The key component of this WFS design is a field lenslet array that separates the exit pupil images in the sensing plane for all reference sources. An analytical method for WFS optical design is presented, and the optimal strategy for selecting optical components from a discrete set is outlined. The feasibility of the WFS design has been demonstrated for a prototype WFS system in a laboratory setup with five reference sources and two deformable mirrors representing a wavefront-distorting medium.
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