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Zernike mode rescaling extends capabilities of adaptive optics for microscopy
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 14:19 authored by Jakub Czuchnowski, Robert Prevedel
Zernike polynomials are widely used mathematical models of experimentally observed optical aberrations. Their useful mathematical properties, in particular their orthogonality, make them a ubiquitous basis set for solving various problems in beam optics. Thus they have found widespread use in adaptive optics realizations that are used to correct wavefront aberrations. However, Zernike aberrations lose their orthogonality when used in combination with Gaussian beams, which are omnipresent in real-world optical applications. As a consequence, Zernike aberrations in Gaussian beams start to cross-couple between each other, a phenomenon that does not occur for Zernike aberrations in plane waves. Here, we describe how the aberration radius influences this cross-coupling of Zernike aberrations. Furthermore, we propose that this effect can actually be harnessed to allow efficient compensation of higher-order aberrations using only low-order Zernike modes. This finding has important practical implications, as it suggests the possibility of using adaptive optics devices with low element numbers to compensate aberrations which would normally require more complex and expensive devices.