Abstract

We present a new method of modeling imaging of laser beams in the presence of diffraction. Our method is based on the concept of first orthogonally expanding the resultant diffraction field (that would have otherwise been obtained by the laborious application of the Huygens diffraction principle) and then representing it by an effective multimodal laser beam with different beam parameters. We show not only that the process of obtaining the new beam parameters is straightforward but also that it permits a different interpretation of the diffraction-caused focal shift in laser beams. All of the criteria that we have used to determine the minimum number of higher-order modes needed to accurately represent the diffraction field show that the mode-expansion method is numerically efficient. Finally, the characteristics of the mode-expansion method are such that it allows modeling of a vast array of diffraction problems, regardless of the characteristics of the incident laser beam, the diffracting element, or the observation plane.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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