In this paper, we present the theory of three-dimensional (3D) imaging using partially coherent light under the nonparaxial condition. Using the linear system approach, we derive the image intensity in terms of the 3D nonparaxial transmission cross coefficient (TCC) and the transmission function defined in this paper. We present that the 3D TCC can be calculated by multiple applications of the 3D fast Fourier transform instead of the six-dimensional integral in the original formula. Using the simplified formula, we simulate phase contrast and Nomarski differential interference contrast (DIC) imaging of a transparent 3D object. Within our knowledge, the 3D model for the DIC based on the 3D nonparaxial TCC is the most rigorous approach that has been suggested. It demonstrates clearly the optical sectioning effect of DIC.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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