the plenoptic sensor
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In this thesis, we will introduce the innovative concept of a plenoptic sensor that can determine the phase and amplitude distortion in a coherent beam, for example a laser beam that has propagated through the turbulent atmosphere.. The plenoptic sensor can be applied to situations involving strong or deep atmospheric turbulence. This can improve free space optical communications by maintaining optical links more intelligently and efficiently. Also, in directed energy applications, the plenoptic sensor and its fast reconstruction algorithm can give instantaneous instructions to an adaptive optics (AO) system to create intelligent corrections in directing a beam through atmospheric turbulence. The hardware structure of the plenoptic sensor uses an objective lens and a microlens array (MLA) to form a mini “Keplerian” telescope array that shares the common objective lens. In principle, the objective lens helps to detect the phase gradient of the distorted laser beam and the microlens array (MLA) helps to retrieve the geometry of the distorted beam in various gradient segments. The software layer of the plenoptic sensor is developed based on different applications. Intuitively, since the device maximizes the observation of the light field in front of the sensor, different algorithms can be developed, such as detecting the atmospheric turbulence effects as well as retrieving undistorted images of distant objects. Efficient 3D simulations on atmospheric turbulence based on geometric optics have been established to help us perform optimization on system design and verify the correctness of our algorithms. A number of experimental platforms have been built to implement the plenoptic sensor in various application concepts and show its improvements when compared with traditional wavefront sensors. As a result, the plenoptic sensor brings a revolution to the study of atmospheric turbulence and generates new approaches to handle turbulence effect better.