We test the statistical properties of static, atmospherelike wave fronts in glass that allow repeatable testing of astronomical adaptive optics instrumentation. The technology is mask-structured ion exchange (MSI) in glass and has significant advantages over other transmissive technologies. The screens are easy to clean, are insensitive to ambient temperature changes, and have high optical-to-near-infrared transmission. However, the effective coherence length (r0) on each of the fabricated screens is systematically too large or, equivalently, the fabricated aberrations are too weak. Despite this strong caveat, the screens appear to be quite useful: Long-exposure point-spread functions have realistic shapes, and power spectrum indices closely match those of the computer-generated wave fronts. Most significant, stacking screens with similar r0 values reduced r0 by the amount predicted by turbulence theory. The refractivity of MSI screens remains unmeasured. Finally, we present our design of an optical system that emulates the key characteristics of the Very Large Telescope, made to contain glass phase screens and to mimic an array of stars for multiconjugate adaptive optics system testing.
© 2004 Optical Society of America
(010.1080) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Active or adaptive optics
(010.1300) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric propagation
(010.1330) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric turbulence
(160.2750) Materials : Glass and other amorphous materials
(220.3620) Optical design and fabrication : Lens system design
David J. Butler, Stefan Hippler, Sebastian Egner, Wenli Xu, and Jochen Bähr, "Broadband, Static Wave-Front Generation: Na-Ag Ion-Exchange Phase Screens and Telescope Emulation," Appl. Opt. 43, 2813-2823 (2004)