Abstract

The relationship between the visibility of fringes and the degree of spatial coherence in electromagnetic two-pinhole interference is assessed. It is demonstrated that the customary definition of the degree of coherence of an electromagnetic field is flawed and a new quantity, free of the formal drawbacks, is introduced. The new definition, which is shown to be consistent with known results for Gaussian statistics, has some unusual properties characteristic only for electromagnetic fields. The degree of coherence is measurable by a sequence of interference experiments.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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Geophys J. R. Astron. Soc. (1)

J. C. Samson and J. V. Olson, �??Some comments on the description of the polarization states of waves,�?? Geophys J. R. Astron. Soc. 61, 115�??130 (1980).

J. Mod. Opt. (1)

G. Gbur and D. F. V. James, �??Unpolarized sources that generate highly polarized fields outside the source,�?? J. Mod. Opt. 47, 1171�??1177 (2000).

J. Opt. Soc. Am A (1)

G. P. Agrawal and E. Wolf, �??Propagation-induced polarization changes in partially coherent optical beams,�?? J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 2019�??2023 (2000)

J. Opt. Soc. Am. (1)

J. Opt. Soc. Am. A (1)

Nature (1)

J.-J. Greffet, R. Carminati, K. Joulain, J.-P. Mulet, S. Mainguy, Y. Chen, �??Coherent emission of light by thermal sources,�?? Nature 416, 61�??64 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Nuovo Cimento (2)

B. Karczewski, �??Coherence theory of the electromagnetic field,�?? Nuovo Cimento 30, 906�??915 (1963).

E. Wolf, �??Optics in terms of observable quantities,�?? Nuovo Cimento 12, 884�??888 (1954).

Opt. Acta (1)

R. Barakat, �??n-Fold polarization measures and associated thermodynamic entropy of N partially coherent pencils of radiation,�?? Opt. Acta 30, 1171�??1182 (1983).

Opt. Lett. (3)

Phys. Lett. (1)

B. Karczewski, �??Degree of coherence of the electromagnetic field,�?? Phys. Lett. 5, 191�??192 (1963).
[CrossRef]

Phys. Rev. (1)

C. L. Mehta and E. Wolf, �??Coherence properties of blackbody radiation. I. Correlation tensors of the classical fields,�?? Phys. Rev. 134, A1143�??A1149 (1964).
[CrossRef]

Phys. Rev. A (1)

W. H. Carter and E. Wolf, �??Far-zone behavior of electromagnetic fields generated by fluctuating current distributions,�?? Phys. Rev. A 36, 1258�??1269 (1987).
[CrossRef]

Phys. Rev. E (2)

T. Setaelae, K. Blomstedt, M. Kaivola, and A. T. Friberg, �??Universality of electromagnetic-field correlations within homogeneous and isotropic sources,�?? Phys. Rev. E 67, 026613 (2003).
[CrossRef]

T. Setaelae, A. Shevchenko, M. Kaivola, and A. T. Friberg, �??Degree of polarization for optical near fields,�?? Phys. Rev. E 66, 016615 (2002).
[CrossRef]

Phys. Rev. Lett. (3)

R. Carminati and J.-J. Greffet, �??Near-field effects in spatial coherence of thermal sources,�?? Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 1660�??1663 (1999)
[CrossRef]

T. Setaelae, M. Kaivola, and A. T. Friberg, �??Degree of polarization in near fields of thermal sources: effects of surface waves,�?? Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 123902 (2002).
[CrossRef]

A. V. Shchegrov, K. Joulain, R. Carminati, and J.-J. Greffet, �??Near-field spectral effects due to electromagnetic surface excitations,�?? Phys. Rev. Lett. 85, 1548�??1551 (2000).
[CrossRef]

Other (3)

L. Mandel and E. Wolf, Optical Coherence and Quantum Optics (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1995).

G. Arfken and H. J. Weber, Mathematical Methods for Physicists (Academic, New York, 2001).

G. A. Korn and T. M. Korn, Mathematical Handbook for Scientists and Engineers (Dover, New York, 2000), Sec. 3.2.

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