It is shown that when branch points are present in the phase of a turbulence-distorted optical field, the ability of an adaptive optics system that utilizes a least mean square error type of wave-front reconstructor to sense all of the turbulence-induced phase perturbations is limited. There is a portion of the turbulence-induced phase perturbation, which portion we refer to as the hidden phase, that such a least mean square error type of wave-front reconstructor will, in effect, ignore. It is shown that the presence of branch points indicates that the measured phase-difference vector field cannot be considered to be simply the gradient of some scalar potential—the phase function—but is in part also the curl of a vector potential function. A solution is developed for this vector potential, and from this a simple closed-form solution for the hidden phase is developed. Sample numerical results are presented showing the nature of the hidden phase. Suggestions are provided for a branch-point-tolerant wave-front reconstructor based on use of the closed-form solution for the hidden phase.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
(010.7060) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Turbulence
Original Manuscript: May 1, 1998
Revised Manuscript: July 6, 1998
Manuscript Accepted: June 10, 1998
Published: October 1, 1998
David L. Fried, "Branch point problem in adaptive optics," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 2759-2768 (1998)