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Nat Commun. 2014;5:3275. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4275.

Wavefront sensing reveals optical coherence.

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Department of Optics, Palacký University, 17. listopadu 12, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Departamento de Óptica, Facultad de Física, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Wavefront sensing is a set of techniques providing efficient means to ascertain the shape of an optical wavefront or its deviation from an ideal reference. Owing to its wide dynamical range and high optical efficiency, the Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor is nowadays the most widely used of these sensors. Here we show that it actually performs a simultaneous measurement of position and angular spectrum of the incident radiation and, therefore, when combined with tomographic techniques previously developed for quantum information processing, the Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor can be instrumental in reconstructing the complete coherence properties of the signal. We confirm these predictions with an experimental characterization of partially coherent vortex beams, a case that cannot be treated with the standard tools. This seems to indicate that classical methods employed hitherto do not fully exploit the potential of the registered data.


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