A very general beam solution of the paraxial wave equation in elliptic cylindrical coordinates is presented. We call such a field an elliptic beam (EB). The complex amplitude of the EB is described by either the generalized Ince functions or the Whittaker-Hill functions and is characterized by four parameters that are complex in the most general situation. The propagation through complex ABCD optical systems and the conditions for square integrability are studied in detail. Special cases of the EB are the standard, elegant, and generalized Ince-Gauss beams, Mathieu-Gauss beams, among others.
© 2008 Optical Society of America
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