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What is Wavefront?-Definition, Types, And Examples

August 22, 2022
written by Adeel Abbas

In physics, the wavefront of a time-varying wave field is the set of all points having the same phase.

What is Wavefront?

The imaginary surface that represents the points of a wave that vibrates in unison is called a wavefront. The corresponding crests and troughs at any instant are in a phase when identical waves have a common origin and travel through a heterogeneous medium.

Types of Wavefront

The different types of wavefronts can be determined by the path followed by the particles from the source. We can understand these different types in more detail.

Spherical wavefront

When the point source is an isotropic medium, the wavefronts are spheres that are centered on the source. Electromagnetic waves in a vacuum form a spherical wavefront.

Cylindrical Wavefront

When the source of light is linear, the points on the surface of the cylinder are from the source. A wavefront with a cylindrical shape is called a wavefront. The rays of light coming out of a lens converge at a point. It takes the form of a cylinder as they bend.

Plane Wavefront

Plane wavefront can be produced by extended sources like when we see a point object which produces a spherical wavefront, but far away when rays become parallel. The wavefronts are less curved when the distance from the source of light increases. Radiations coming out of the sun are an example of the plane wavefront.

Wavefront Sensor

A wavefront sensor is a device that measures the wavefront aberration in a coherent signal to describe the optical quality or lack of it in an optical system. The method of using a Shack–Hartmann lenslet array is very popular. The measurement of the aberrations in the eye is one of the many applications that adaptive optics can be used. In this approach, a weak laser source is directed into the eye and the reflection of the retina is captured and processed.

Application of Wavefront

There is a great deal of significance to wavefront devices in optical information processing systems. These devices can be used in a variety of optical applications.

  • wavefront correction
  • optical metrology
  • adaptive optics
  • aberration compensation