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Proceedings Paper

Partially coherent optical beams
Author(s): Emil Wolf
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Paper Abstract

It is known that only a single-mode beam is completely spatially coherent. In general, beams generated by lasers and other sources consist of several modes and consequently are spatially only partially coherent. In this tutorial paper we first review the basic concepts which are needed to characterize beams of any state of coherence. We then discuss some of their main properties and we show that partially coherent beams can have very rich behavior. For example, two beams may have different spatial coherence properties at the source and yet may give rise to the same intensity distribution in the far zone; or they may have different intensity distributions at the source but may generate far fields with the same spatial coherence properties. We also discuss some recent developments which have demonstrated that the superposition of two beams with broad spectra (low temporal coherence) may result in a light distribution with a completely different spectrum; and that, moreover, the spectrum may be different at different points in the region of superposition. Both theoretical predictions and their experimental verifications are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 November 1996
PDF: 1 pages
Proc. SPIE 2870, Third International Workshop on Laser Beam and Optics Characterization, (20 November 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.259894
Show Author Affiliations
Emil Wolf, Univ. of Rochester (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2870:
Third International Workshop on Laser Beam and Optics Characterization
Michel Morin; Adolf Giesen, Editor(s)

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