A detailed analysis of the plane-wave diffraction by a finite-radius circular spiral phase plate (SPP) with integer and fractional topological charge and with variable transmission coefficients inside and outside of the plate edge is presented. We characterize the effect of varying the transmission coefficients and the parameters of the SPP on the propagated field. The vortex structure for integer and fractional phase step of the SPPs with and without phase apodization at the plate edge is also analyzed. The consideration of the interference between the light crossing the SPP and the light that undergoes no phase alteration at the aperture plane reveals new and interesting phenomena associated to this classical problem.
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