Many authors, dating back to at least the 1950s, have presented mathematical expansions of the wave-front aberration function for optical systems without symmetry, typically based on limiting assumptions and simplifications, with some of the most recent work being done by Howard and Stone [Appl. Opt.39, 3232 (2000) ]. This paper reveals that in fact there are no new aberrations in imaging optical systems with near-circular aperture stops but otherwise without symmetry. What does occur is that the field dependence of an aberration often changes when symmetry is abandoned. Each aberration type develops a characteristic field behavior in a system without symmetry. Specifically, for example, astigmatism, develops a binodal field dependence; e.g., there are typically two points in the field with zero astigmatism, and typically neither point is on axis. This construct, nodal aberration theory, for understanding the aberrations in systems without symmetry becomes a direct extension of an optical designer’s knowledge base. Through the use of real ray-based analysis methods, such as Zernike coefficients, it is possible to understand completely the aberrations of optical systems without symmetry in terms of rotationally symmetric aberration theory with the simple addition of the concept of field nodes.
© 2005 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article