Optical EngineeringFusion of adaptive beam steering and optimization-based wavefront control for laser communications in atmosphere
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The performance of mobile laser communication systems operating within Earth's atmosphere is generally limited by the pointing errors due to movement of the platforms and mechanical vibrations. In addition, atmospheric turbulence causes changes of the refractive index along the propagation path, creating random redistribution of the optical energy in the spatial domain. Under adverse conditions these effects lead to increased bit error rate. While traditional approaches provide separate treatment of these problems, suggesting high-bandwidth beam steering systems for tracking and wavefront control for the mitigation of atmospheric effects, the two tasks can be integrated. This paper presents a hybrid laser beam-steering–wavefront-control system comprising an electrically addressed spatial light modulator (SLM) installed on the Omni-Wrist sensor mount. The function of the Omni-Wrist is to provide coarse steering over a wide range of pointing angles, while that of the SLM is twofold: wavefront correction and fine steering. The control law for the Omni-Wrist is synthesized using a decentralized approach that provides independent access to the azimuth and declination channels; calculation of the required phase profile for the SLM is optimization-based. This paper presents the control algorithms, the approach to coordinating the operation of the two systems, and the results.