A compound refractive lens (CRL), consisting of a series of N closely spaced lens elements each of which contributes a small fraction of the total focusing, can be used to focus x rays or neutrons. The thickness of a CRL can be comparable to its focal length, whereupon a thick-lens analysis must be performed. In contrast with the conventional optical lens, where the ray inside the lens follows a straight line, the ray inside the CRL is continually changing direction because of the multiple refracting surfaces. Thus the matrix representation for the thick CRL is quite different from that for the thick optical lens. Principal planes can be defined such that the thick-lens matrix can be converted to that of a thin lens. For a thick lens the focal length is greater than for a thin lens with the same lens curvature, but this lengthening effect is less for the CRL than for the conventional optical lens.
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