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Optical Engineering • Open Access

Modeling physical optics phenomena by complex ray tracing

Paper Abstract

Physical optics modeling requires propagating optical wave fields from a specific radiometric source through complex systems of apertures and reflective or refractive optical components, or even complete instruments or devices, usually to a focal plane or sensor. The model must accurately include the interference and diffraction effects allowed by the polarization and coherence characteristics of both the initial optical wave field and the components and media through which it passes. Like a spherical wave and a plane wave, a Gaussian spherical wave (or Gaussian beam) is also a solution to the paraxial wave equation and does not change its fundamental form during propagation. The propagation of a Gaussian beam is well understood and easily characterized by a few simple parameters. Furthermore, a paraxial Gaussian beam can be propagated through optical systems using geometrical ray-trace methods. The decomposition of arbitrary propagating wave fields into a superposition of Gaussian beamlets is, thus, an alternative to the classical methods of propagating optical wave fields. This decomposition into Gaussian beamlets has been exploited to significant advantage in the modeling of a wide range of physical optics phenomena.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 March 2015
PDF: 12 pages
Opt. Eng. 54(3) 035105 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.54.3.035105
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 54, Issue 3
Show Author Affiliations
James E. Harvey, Photon Engineering LLC (United States)
Ryan G. Irvin, Photon Engineering LLC (United States)
Richard N. Pfisterer, Photon Engineering LLC (United States)


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