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Exploiting Diffraction Orders from a Phase Limited SLM to Remove and Model Zernike Aberrations

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  • Using a plastic bottle, we explore the capabilities of a reflective phase-only Spatial Light Modulator (SLM) in removing wavefront aberrations using a Zernike polynomial phase mask, with the modulators phase depth limited to 0.8π radians. Wavefront aberrations, which can be modeled with Zernike polynomials, distort image transmission through various optical devices, and there is interest in using the SLM for removing these phase-only aberrations in coherent monochromatic light (such as a laser). To measure the capabilities of the modulator mapped with the Zernike polynomials, we placed a plastic soda bottle in different positions of a Fourier optical systems beam path, such that we could measure the aberrational effects of the bottle on the point spread function. We found that by placing a reflective SLM with a retardation of 0.8π before the transform lens, pixel mapped with both a blazed grating and Zernike polynomials, we were thus capable of controlling the deviation and peak intensity of a particular diffraction order in the focal plane of the transform lens. By placing a CCD camera in the focal plane and imaging a non-zeroth diffraction order, we can measure the convoluted point spread function while ignoring the non-diffracting light at the center of the CCD. We find that 13 lower order Zernike polynomials are capable of reducing the deviation in the intensity of the first diffraction order while maximizing its peak brightness, but the result imposes certain conditions on the location and curvature of the soda bottle and may not have equal effects across all non-zero diffraction orders. From our data, we were able to conclude that Zernike polynomial phase masks, limited by an SLM with 0.8π retardation, is capable of removing aberrations in a laser beam when localized to a diffraction order, but “modeling” them was inconclusive.
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