Abstract

Phase-space representations of optical beams such as the ambiguity function or the Wigner distribution function have recently gained considerable importance for the characterization of coherent and partially coherent beams. There is growing interest in beam properties such as the beam propagation factor and the coherence and phase information that can be extracted from these phase-space representations. A method is proposed to decompose a partially coherent beam into Hermite–Gaussian modes by using the ambiguity function. The modal weights and the possible phase relations of the Hermite–Gaussian modes are retrieved. The method can also be applied for the decomposition of the Wigner distribution function. Some examples are discussed in the scope of beam characterization.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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