In an alternative hardware design for an apparatus used in image-based wavefront sensing, defocus diversity is introduced by means of fixed lenses that are mounted in a filter wheel (see figure) so that they can be alternately switched into a position in front of the focal plane of an electronic camera recording the image formed by the optical system under test. [The terms “image-based”, “wavefront sensing”, and “defocus diversity” are defined in the first of the three immediately preceding articles, “Broadband Phase Retrieval for Image-Based Wavefront Sensing” (GSC-14899-1).] Each lens in the filter wheel is designed so that the optical effect of placing it at the assigned position is equivalent to the optical effect of translating the camera a specified defocus distance along the optical axis.

A Known Amount of Defocus is introduced by rotating the filter wheel to place a known positive or negative lens in front of the focal plane.

Heretofore, defocus diversity has been obtained by translating the imaging camera along the optical axis to various defocus positions. Because data must be taken at multiple, accurately measured defocus positions, it is necessary to mount the camera on a precise translation stage that must be calibrated for each defocus position and/or to use an optical encoder for measurement and feedback control of the defocus positions. Additional latency is introduced into the wavefront- sensing process as the camera is translated to the various defocus positions. Moreover, if the optical system under test has a large focal length, the required defocus values are large, making it necessary to use a correspondingly bulky translation stage.

By eliminating the need for translation of the camera, the alternative design simplifies and accelerates the wavefront-sensing process. This design is cost-effective in that the filterwheel/ lens mechanism can be built from commercial catalog components. After initial calibration of the defocus value of each lens, a selected defocus value is introduced by simply rotating the filter wheel to place the corresponding lens in front of the camera. The rotation of the wheel can be automated by use of a motor drive, and further calibration is not necessary. Because a camera-translation stage is no longer needed, the size of the overall apparatus can be correspondingly reduced.

This work was done by Bruce H. Dean of Goddard Space Flight Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at  under the Physical Sciences category.