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Effects of thermal gradients on total internal reflection corner cubes

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Abstract

Uncoated corner cube retroreflectors (CCRs) operating via total internal reflection (TIR) are less susceptible to internal heating than their metal-coated analogs, lacking an absorber on the rear surface. Even so, environments that induce differential heating within the CCR will result in thermal lensing of the incident wavefront, introducing aberrations that will generally reduce the central irradiance of the polarization-sensitive far-field diffraction pattern (FFDP). In this paper, we characterize the sensitivity of TIR CCRs to axial and radial thermal gradients. We present simulated FFDPs for key input polarizations and incidence angles and provide a generalized analytic model that approximates the behavior of the central irradiance as temperature differences are introduced.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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