Abstract

Partially coherent fields with the electric field parallel to the azimuthal coordinate are analyzed by use of the exact angular spectrum representation. The known results for fully coherent fields are used to find the permitted forms of azimuthally polarized, partially coherent fields. The derived result is then used to show that this class of fields is severely restricted because the azimuthal polarization state is particularly sensitive to the correlation properties of the electric-field components. Two examples of azimuthally polarized fields are briefly examined. The first is a class of nondiffracting fields that retain the polarization state upon propagation, whereas the second is an example in which the azimuthal polarization is broken because the cross-spectral density function is not of the permitted form.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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