Abstract

The effects of birefringence on the light distribution in the focal region of a high-NA optical system are investigated with use of the Debye approach to vector diffraction theory. The attention is limited to uniaxially birefringent media with symmetry axis along the optical axis of the imaging system. The radially (p) and tangentially (s) polarized fields in the exit pupil produce spots in the focal region that are defocused with respect to each other. For small birefringence values the relative defocus causes a distortion and broadening of the spot; for larger values the two spots separate completely. As a corollary to the theory it is shown that there is a tangential tornadolike flow of energy in the focal region when the polarization in the entrance pupil is elliptical.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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