Scattering effects from microtopographic surface roughness are merely nonparaxial diffraction phenomena resulting from random phase variations in the reflected or transmitted wavefront. Rayleigh–Rice, Beckmann–Kirchhoff. or Harvey–Shack surface scatter theories are commonly used to predict surface scatter effects. Smooth-surface and/or paraxial approximations have severely limited the range of applicability of each of the above theoretical treatments. A recent linear systems formulation of nonparaxial scalar diffraction theory applied to surface scatter phenomena resulted first in an empirically modified Beckmann–Kirchhoff surface scatter model, then a generalized Harvey–Shack theory that produces accurate results for rougher surfaces than the Rayleigh–Rice theory and for larger incident and scattered angles than the classical Beckmann–Kirchhoff and the original Harvey–Shack theories. These new developments simplify the analysis and understanding of nonintuitive scattering behavior from rough surfaces illuminated at arbitrary incident angles.
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