Angle-of-arrival variability of retroreflected lasers despite atmospheric reciprocity

Shane Walsh, Alex Frost, Lewis Howard, David Gozzard, Skevos Karpathakis, Benjamin Dix-Matthews, Charles Gravestock, Ayden McCann, Sascha Schediwy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Corner cube retroreflectors are commonly used as cooperative targets in free-space laser applications. The previous literature suggests that due to path reciprocity, a retroreflected beam is self-corrected across a turbulent atmosphere and should show no angle-of-arrival variability in the near field. This is at odds with recent experiments that rely on angle-of-arrival measurements in retroreflected beams for effective tip/tilt correction. In this Letter we investigate the mechanism behind observed angle-of-arrival variability using numerical field propagation to model various transceiver and retroreflector geometries. We determine that asymmetric truncation of a curved wavefront at the retroreflector, transceiver, or both, results in a difference in tip/tilt between the transmitted and reflected wavefronts. This difference propagates as angle-of-arrival variation at the transceiver despite reciprocity, providing the error signal necessary for adaptive optics tip/tilt correction without a remote beacon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1920-1923
Number of pages4
JournalOptics Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022


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