This paper shows that a fundamental Gaussian beam propagating in a lenslike medium with cylindrical symmetry can be generated by the rotation about its axis of a skew ray which obeys the laws of geometrical optics. A complex representation: X(z) = ξ(z) + jη(z), where ξ(z) and η(z) are the projections of the skew ray on two perpendicular meridional planes, is discussed. It is found that the beam radius is equal to the modulus of X(z) and the on-axis phase to the phase of X(z). Using this representation, we derive a general expression for the on-axis phase shift ΔΦ experienced by a beam with an input complex beam parameter q through an optical system whose ray matrix is
. When the beam is matched to the optical system (output q = q), ΔΦ can be written cos–1(A + D)/2. This representation also provides a useful beam tracing method which is demonstrated and a simple interpretation for the known representation of Gaussian modes by ray packets.
© 1985 Optical Society of America
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