This group deals with the interaction of light with fluids. For example, when an otherwise collimated, coherent beam of light encounters a turbulent flow field that includes index-of-refraction fluctuations (density fluctuations in air at high Mach numbers), its optical wavefront becomes aberrated, causing the beam to be degraded.
The group focuses on theoretical and experimental research on understanding and modeling the wavefront distortion for a laser propagating through turbulent, variable-index flows. This is an issue with airborne laser systems used for defense, and point-to-point data transmission.
This area also has an overlap with flow control with the development of high bandwidth optical sensors. In addition, one of the major challenges is to develop a means for real-time optical corrections. This will require high-speed sensors, data processing, movable optics, and flow control. Much of this research is performed in the Aero-Optics Laboratory, in the Hessert Building. Funding comes from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Aero-optics Presentation for the 2005 FlowPAC Industry Partner Meeting [MS Powerpoint 10.2Mb]