In this Letter, we introduce a wavefront slope sensor based on a diffractive element. The diffractive element wavefront sensor (DEWS) produces four double overlapping copies of the incoming wavefront acting like a combination of shearing and pyramidal sensors. The DEWS allows a simple and fast slope estimate. The wavefront sampling can be as high as the number of pixel assigned to cover a wavefront copy, and it can be modified with only binning the CCD pixels. The theory for designing the sensor, its application to extract local slope information, and a simple noise analysis are presented. An application example for atmosphere aberrated wavefronts is demonstrated.
© 2012 Optical Society of America
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