Civil Engineering ETDs


Mark Harris

Publication Date



Pairing the information received from multiple telescopes to explore the universe is typically based on the interference phenomenon between amplitudes of light, rather their intensities. Brighter sources and larger telescopes allow for greater amounts of light to be collected, but do not specifically involve the intensity interference of electromagnetic fields. There is an alternate form of creating images of distant objects called Intensity Interferometry (II), which is less sensitive to atmospheric distortions and aberrations of telescope surfaces. The deficiencies of II are overcome as photo detectors become more sensitive and computers more powerful. In recognition of this possibility this dissertation investigates how the deformation of a large optical surface would influence the accuracy of II. This research first involved obtaining an understanding of the theoretical foundation of II and statistics (based on quantum mechanics) of photon correlations. Optical Ray-tracing and Finite Element Analyses were thereafter integrated to answer this question: how would the correlation of the intensity field change as a large light weight reflective structure deforms? Analytical models based on the theory of the deformation of shells were developed to validate the Finite Element Analyses. In this study a single focal parabolic reflector of an Intensity Interferometer (II) system is simulated. The extent that dynamic focal properties amongst a parabolic reflector change the statistics of the light at a detector is analyzed. A ray tracing algorithm is used to examine how the statistical variations of simulated monochromatic stellar light changes from the source to the detector. Varying the positions of the detector from the focal plane and the surface profile of the mirror develops a metric to understand how the various scenarios affect the statistics of the detected light and the correlation measurement between the source and detector. Photon streams are evaluated for light distribution, time of flight, and statistical changes at a detector. This research and analysis are used as a means to develop a tool to quantify how structural perturbations of focal mirrors affect the statistics of photon stream detections inherent in II instrumentation and science.'


Optics, Ray Tracing, Intensity Interferometry

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Maji, Arup

First Committee Member (Chair)

Maji, Arup

Second Committee Member

Ross, Timothy

Third Committee Member

Tarefder, Rafiqul