We present a model to determine the far-field diffraction pattern of a metallic cylinder of infinite length when it is illuminated in oblique incidence. This model is based on the Helmholtz–Kirchhoff integral using the Beckmann conditions for reflection. It considers the three-dimensional nature of the diffracting object as well as the material of which the cylinder is made. This model shows that the diffraction orders are placed in a cone of light. The amplitude at the far field can be divided into three terms: the first term accounts for Babinet’s principle, that is, the contribution of the cylinder projection; the second term accounts for the three dimensionality of the cylinder; and the third term accounts for the material of which the cylinder is made. This model is applied to the diameter estimation of the cylinder. Since the amplitude of the Babinet contribution is much larger than the light reflected by the surface, the cylinder diameter can be obtained in a simple way. With this approximation, the locations of the diffraction minima do not vary when the cylinder is inclined. On the other hand, when the reflected light is considered the location of the minima and, hence, the estimation of the diameter, varies. Also, a modification of the diffraction minima is produced by the material of which the cylinder is made. Experimental results are also obtained that corroborate the theoretical approach.
© 2008 Optical Society of America
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