The focusing of an atomic beam using near-resonant laser light is considered. Path-integral techniques are employed to transform the problem into a standard diffraction integral. This approach is general and allows us to deal with thick laser lenses. Starting from the basic form of the potential energy for an atom in a laser beam, we derive the propagation kernel for the atomic wave function for the particular case of a TEM01*, or doughnut, mode laser beam. Both the full three-dimensional propagation kernel and its paraxial approximation are discussed. We show that the paraxial case can be obtained from the three-dimensional case by a stationary-phase approximation of the propagation equation. Numerical results for the focusing of a Gaussian atomic beam are presented. These results show that spot diameters on the order of 20 Å are obtainable for many reasonable choices of laser and atomic beam parameters and that for most of these cases the thin-lens approximation is not valid. The effects of the lowest-order aberrations are also briefly discussed. Spherical aberration is found to contribute significantly to the focal spot diameter, at least for the doughnut mode laser beam considered here.
© 1991 Optical Society of America
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