To simulate in the laboratory the influence that a turbulent atmosphere has on light beams, we introduce a practical method for generating atmospheric wavefront distortions that considers digital holographic reconstruction using a programmable binary micromirror array. We analyze the efficiency of the approach for different configurations of the micromirror array and experimentally demonstrate the benchtop technique. Though the mirrors on the digital array can only be positioned in one of two states, we show that the holographic technique can be used to devise a wide variety of atmospheric wavefront aberrations in a controllable and predictable way for a fraction of the cost of phase-only spatial light modulators.
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