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Fully symmetric nulling beam combiners

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Abstract

A simple method of nulling broadband light is presented. A mirror-symmetric pair of right-angle periscopes is first used to introduce a geometric field flip between two incident light beams, after which the light is combined by means of one of a number of constructive two-beam interferometers. A reciprocal pair of beam-splitter passages provides for complete symmetry. Such an approach greatly eases beam-splitter design requirements and should find use both in initial ground-based nulling experiments and ultimately in space-borne interferometers targeted at direct extrasolar planet detection.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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