Focal-plane wavefront sensing with photonic lanterns: theoretical framework

Jonathan Lin, Michael P. Fitzgerald, Yinzi Xin, Olivier Guyon, Sergio Leon-Saval, Barnaby Norris, Nemanja Jovanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The photonic lantern (PL) is a tapered waveguide that can efficiently couple light into multiple single-mode optical fibers. Such devices are currently being considered for a number of tasks, including the coupling of telescopes and high-resolution, fiber-fed spectrometers, coherent detection, nulling interferometry, and vortex-fiber nulling. In conjunction with these use cases, PLs can simultaneously perform low-order focal-plane wavefront sensing. In this work, we provide a mathematical framework for the analysis of a PL wavefront sensor (PLWFS), deriving linear and higher-order reconstruction models as well as metrics through which sensing performance-in both the linear and nonlinear regimes-can be quantified. This framework can be extended to account for additional optics such as beam-shaping optics and vortex masks, and can be generalized for other wavefront sensing architectures. Finally, we provide initial numerical verification of our mathematical models by simulating a six-port PLWFS. In a forthcoming companion paper (Lin and Fitzgerald), we provide a more comprehensive numerical characterization of few-port PLWFSs, and consider how the sensing properties of these devices can be controlled and optimized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2643-2656
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


Dive into the research topics of 'Focal-plane wavefront sensing with photonic lanterns: theoretical framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this