The effect of turbulence on propagating laser beams has been a subject of interest since the evolution of lasers back in 1959. In this work, an inexpensive and reliable technique for producing interferograms using a point diffraction interferometer (PDI) was considered to experimentally study the turbulence effects on a laser beam propagating through air. The formed interferograms from a propagating beamwere observed and digitally processed to study the strength of atmospheric turbulence. This technique was found to be sensitive enough to detect changes in applied temperature with distance between the simulated turbulence and laser path. These preliminary findings indicated that we can use a PDI method to detect and localise atmospheric turbulence parameters. Such parameters are very important for use in the military (defence laser weapons) and this is vital for South Africa (SA) since it has natural resources, is involved in peace keeping and mediation for other countries, and hence must have a strong defence system that will be able to locate, detect and destroy incoming missiles and other threatening atmospheric systems in order to protect its environment and avoid the initiation of countermeasures on its land.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.