Abstract

The Gouy phase, sometimes called the phase anomaly, is the remarkable effect that in the region of focus a converging wave field undergoes a rapid phase change by an amount of π, compared to the phase of a plane wave of the same frequency. This phenomenon plays a crucial role in any application where fields are focused, such as optical coherence tomography, mode selection in laser resonators, and interference microscopy. However, when the field is spatially partially coherent, as is often the case, its phase is a random quantity. When such a field is focused, the Gouy phase is therefore undefined. The correlation properties of partially coherent fields are described by their so-called spectral degree of coherence. We demonstrate that this coherence function does exhibit a generalized Gouy phase. Its precise behavior in the focal region depends on the transverse coherence length. We show that this effect influences the fringe spacing in interference experiments in a nontrivial manner.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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