Abstract

An approach to the theory of partial coherence for nonstationary optical fields is presented. Starting with a spectral representation, a favorable decomposition of the optical signals is discussed that supports a natural extension of the mathematical formalism. The coherence functions are redefined, but still as temporal correlation functions, allowing the obtaining of a more general form of the interference law for partially coherent optical signals. The general theory is applied in some relevant particular cases of nonstationary interference, namely, with quasi-monochromatic beams of different frequencies and with phase-modulated quasi-monochromatic beams of similar frequency spectra. All the results of the general treatment are reducible to the ones given in the literature for the case of stationary interference.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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