Abstract

We present a rigorous electromagnetic formalism for defining, evaluating, and optimizing the degrees of freedom of an optical system. The analysis is valid for the delivery of information with electromagnetic waves under arbitrary boundary conditions communicating between domains in three-dimensional space. We show that, although in principle there is an infinity of degrees of freedom, the effective number is finite owing to the presence of noise. This is in agreement with the restricted classical theories that showed this property for specific optical systems and within the scalar and paraxial approximations. We further show that the best transmitting and receiving functions are the solutions of well-defined eigenvalue equations. The present approach is useful for understanding and designing modern optical systems for which the previous approaches are not applicable, as well as for application in inverse and synthesis problems.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (8)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (61)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription