We have all seen images like this of deformable mirrors:
Continuous deformable mirrors are known to have a higher quality over segmented mirrors, but it seems to me that a continuous mirror (or even a segmented tip tilt mirror) would cause diffuse reflection. Here is a figure showing a segmented and a continuous mirror
Since the light is coming in normal to the telescope (let's just say space telescope so we can avoid all possible atmospheric non-normal light), the purpose of the deformable mirror is to adjust the phase of the light. It would appear to me that a continuous deformable mirror would also diffuse the light as seen from my rough drawing (I know that most mirrors are placed at a 45 degree angle, but you get my point). Here is a figure showing the diffuse reflection at a 45 degree angle.
It is well known that a segmented mirror causes light scatter (at each segmentation location), but I have not been able to find any literature on light diffusion on a continuous deformable mirror. This must be true, but how is it not a problem and how do they address it? (pointing towards scholarly resources would be appreciated)
I will accept the answer posted below, but I think it is missing something important. In the fourth bullet it is stated,
I would conjure that the diffusion reflection at segmentation locations is not significant enough compared to the overall sub-mirror reflection
This is still an opinion (though it could be correct), which is why I specifically asked for scholarly resources.
I reached out to Professor Thomas Bifano from Boston University who specializes in deformable mirrors and his answer made sense and was readily verified in scholarly papers
Diffuse reflection occurs when the reflective surface is rough: scale of surface asperities is large in comparison to the wavelength of light reflecting from it. In diffuse reflection, incident light at a fixed angle of incidence reflects (actually, scatters) at many different angles. If the local roughness of the surface is <<wavelength, there no diffuse reflection.