An optical vortex is characterized by a dark core of destructive interference in a light beam. One of the methods commonly employed to create an optical vortex is by using a computer-generated hologram. A vortex hologram pattern is computed from the interference pattern between a reference plane wave and a vortex wave, resulting in a forked grating pattern. In astronomy, an optical vortex coronagraph is one of the most promising high contrast imaging techniques for the direct imaging of extra-solar planets. Direct imaging of extra-solar planets is a challenging task since the brightness of the parent star is extremely high compared to its orbiting planets. The on-axis light from the parent star gets diffracted in the coronagraph, forming a "ring of fire" pattern, whereas the slightly off-axis light from the planet remains intact. Lyot stop can then be used to block the ring of fire pattern, thus allowing only the planetary light to get through to the imaging camera. Contrast enhancements of 106 or more are possible, provided the vortex lens (spiral phase plate) has exceptional optical quality. By using a vortex hologram with a 4 µm pitch, and an f/300 focusing lens, we were able to demonstrate the creation of a "ring of fire" using a white light emitting diode as a source. A dispersion compensating linear diffraction grating of 4 µm pitch was used to bring the rings together to form a single white light ring of fire. To our knowledge, this is the first time a vortex hologram based OVC has been demonstrated, resulting in a well-formed white light ring of fire. Experimental results show measured power contrast of 1/515 when HeNe laser source was used as a light source and 1/77 when using a white light emitting diode.
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Department, Program, or Center
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)
Kanburapa, Prachyathit, "White-light optical vortex coronagraph" (2012). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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