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Proceedings Paper

Optical propagation in the underwater environment
Author(s): Linda Mullen
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Paper Abstract

Similar to atmospheric propagation, the propagation of light underwater is affected by absorption and scattering. However, the scale of absorption and scattering in the underwater environment is much shorter, with extinction coefficients given in inverse meters rather than inverse kilometers. Such severe attenuation of light poses many challenges to optical imaging and free space optical communications in water. Although blue-green wavelengths can be selected to minimize absorption, multiple small angle forward scattering produces extended beam profiles that cannot be described by simple Gaussian shapes. This spatial spreading leads to image blurring and pulse stretching, which can limit the information capacity of underwater optical communication links. Scatter of the beam in the backward direction can also reduce the contrast of underwater imaging systems and modulating retroreflector-type communications links. Results from laboratory tank experiments and performance prediction models will be presented to illustrate the effects of the underwater environment on a propagating optical signal and on free space optical communication links.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 May 2009
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7324, Atmospheric Propagation VI, 732409 (2 May 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.820205
Show Author Affiliations
Linda Mullen, Naval Air Systems Command (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7324:
Atmospheric Propagation VI
Linda M. Wasiczko Thomas; G. Charmaine Gilbreath, Editor(s)

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