Improved Differential Shack-Hartmann Wavefront Curvature Sensor

Technology #30559

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Experimental system for the differential Shack-Hartmann curvature sensor according to the first embodiment of the present invention
Jannick Rolland, Ph.D.
Weiyao Zou
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John Miner
Assistant Director 407.882.1136
Patent Protection

Differential Shack-Hartmann curvature sensor

US Patent 7,390,999 B1

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Differential shack-hartmann curvature sensor

US Patent 7,525,076 B1
Wavefront estimation with a differential Shack-Hartmann curvature sensor
Optics in the Southeast (OISE), Atlanta, October 6-8, 2005

The design of a differential Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor made of a twice split input wavefront, into the x-, y- and z-axis, that are each sampled by a lenslet array and compared to determine the wavefront’s local curvature

In any optical system, aberrations are present in the light’s wavefront. These aberrations are deviations from a perfect spherical wavefront. These errors come about due to the geometry of optical elements, their arrangement in a system and any other interference seen along the optical path. Because the wavefront is an optical phase phenomenon (surfaces of constant phase) it is difficult to detect. Adaptive optic technologies aim to compensate and correct for these aberrations by deforming optical elements in response to the known imperfections, but establishing this knowledge is not a simple task.

Technical Details

There are a few methods for sensing these wavefront characteristics, one being the Shack Hartmann sensor. By sampling a cross-section of the light with an array of lenses onto a corresponding array of detectors, one may reconstruct the wavefront based on the error of each section of the cross-section. This sensor is, however, sensitive to vibrations and requires an external reference light source. Researchers at UCF have developed a differential version of this wavefront sensor that eliminates the need for external reference and, therefore, eliminates sensitivity to environmental disturbance.


  • Eliminates the need for an external reference light source
  • Not sensitive to vibration or whole-body movements


  • Shack-Hartmann style devices
  • Adaptive optics
  • Optical element testing
  • Ophthalmology
  • Atmospheric and random media characterizations

Additional Technology Numbers: 31268, 31533