Abstract

We develop an efficient method for accurately calculating the electric field of tightly focused laser beams in the presence of specific configurations of microscopic scatterers. This Huygens–Fresnel wave-based electric field superposition (HF-WEFS) method computes the amplitude and phase of the scattered electric field in excellent agreement with finite difference time-domain (FDTD) solutions of Maxwell’s equations. Our HF-WEFS implementation is 2–4 orders of magnitude faster than the FDTD method and enables systematic investigations of the effects of scatterer size and configuration on the focal field. We demonstrate the power of the new HF-WEFS approach by mapping several metrics of focal field distortion as a function of scatterer position. This analysis shows that the maximum focal field distortion occurs for single scatterers placed below the focal plane with an offset from the optical axis. The HF-WEFS method represents an important first step toward the development of a computational model of laser-scanning microscopy of thick cellular/tissue specimens.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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