We introduce the generalized vector Helmholtz-Gauss (gVHzG) beams that constitute a general family of localized beam solutions of the Maxwell equations in the paraxial domain. The propagation of the electromagnetic components through axisymmetric ABCD optical systems is expressed elegantly in a coordinate-free and closed-form expression that is fully characterized by the transformation of two independent complex beam parameters. The transverse mathematical structure of the gVHzG beams is form-invariant under paraxial transformations. Any paraxial beam with the same waist size and transverse spatial frequency can be expressed as a superposition of gVHzG beams with the appropriate weight factors. This formalism can be straightforwardly applied to propagate vector Bessel-Gauss, Mathieu-Gauss, and Parabolic-Gauss beams, among others.
©2006 Optical Society of America
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