Abstract

The concept of aberrations of diffracted waves is revisited by using the Rayleigh–Sommerfeld theory of diffraction, and it is pointed out that these aberrations are in a class by themselves; they are only deceptively similar to the aberrations of a rotationally symmetric imaging system. Although an exact Fourier-transform expression can be written for the diffracted wave field, its numerical calculation is cumbersome because of the dependence of the aberrations of the diffracted wave on the observation point. This is true regardless of whether the diffracted wave field is observed on a plane or a hemisphere. It is shown that the Fresnel and Fraunhofer approximations, which neglect these aberrations and thereby simplify the calculations, are valid in imaging applications.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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