Image Processing Reference
Effects of Turbulence on a Wavefront
that occurs when the image screen is shifted from the ideal position. Some common
terms for aberrations are defocus, coma, astigmatism, and distortion, as identified
by Seidel in 1856. (Mahajan 1991; Smith 2000).
Optical aberrations are described within mathematical formalisms, the most
common being Zernike polynomials (Born and Wolf 1999). Zernike polynomials
provide a set of expressions that can be combined to describe any aberration. Each
polynomial form is independent from the others, forming an orthonormal basis set
of expressions that is a complete description of the observed aberration. Several
Zernike polynomials can be combined to produce a composite aberration, and as a
result all wavefronts can be completely represented. Conversely, a complex wave-
front can be decomposed into its individual Zernike polynomials.
Zernike polynomials contain a hierarchy of complexity. The simplest or low-
est-order Zernike polynomial is a uniform phase change across a wavefront, known
as piston. The next-lowest-order aberration comes as a pair known as tip and tilt,
which are angular changes in the wavefront. These three Zernike polynomials do
not change the shape of wavefront locally, but rather change the overall position or
angle of propagation of the wavefront. Tip and tilt are commonly encountered
when changing the angle of a mirror to an object and observing the positional
change in the reflection.
Lower-order Zernike polynomials can also be thought of as smoothly varying
in phase across a wavefront. As the Zernike order increases, the phase variations
over the wavefront increase on smaller spatial scales. Such higher-order modes can
be visualized as a bending or warping of the wavefront into shapes more like those
of potato chips; that is, a collection of curves in the surface of the wavefront. Table
2.1 shows a series of Zernike polynomials and Fig. 2.8 shows the corresponding
shapes of these polynomials.
Zernike polynomials provide a notation for describing an aberration, allowing
very complex aberrations to be constructed from a superposition of specific poly-
nomials of varying amplitude. The notation for aberrations is not standardized, so it
is important to be consistent in how one identifies the Zernike polynomials. Fig-
ure 2.10 shows one form of the notation.
Table 2.1 Zernike Polynomals.
6r 2 +1)
r 2 cos2 θ
2.4r 2 sin2 θ
3r 2 )sin θ
3r 2 )cos θ