Abstract

This paper is the first in a series that will examine image formation in optical systems with polarization aberrations. The present paper derives the point-spread function (PSF) and the optical transfer function for optical systems with polarization aberration and explores how image formation depends on the coherence and polarization state of the source. It is shown that the scalar PSF of Fourier optics can be generalized in the presence of polarization aberration to a 4 × 4 point-spread matrix (PSM) in Mueller matrix notation. A similar 4 × 4 optical transfer matrix (OTM) is shown to be an appropriate generalization of the optical transfer function. The PSM and the OTM are associated with the optical system and are independent of the incident polarization state but dependent on the coherence of the illumination. Since an optical system with polarization aberrations will have a different PSF and optical transfer function for different incident polarization states, the PSM and the OTM act as filters with regard to the incident polarization state. Example calculations are performed for a circularly retarding lens.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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