Full characterization of optical systems, diffractive and geometric, is possible by using the Fresnel Gaussian Shape Invariant (FGSI) previously reported in the literature. The complex amplitude distribution in the object plane is represented by a linear superposition of complex Gaussians wavelets and then propagated through the optical system by means of the referred Gaussian invariant. This allows ray tracing through the optical system and at the same time allows calculating with high precision the complex wave-amplitude distribution at any plane of observation. This method is similar to conventional ray tracing additionally preserving the undulatory behavior of the field distribution. That is, we are propagating a linear combination of Gaussian shaped wavelets; keeping always track of both, the ray trajectory, and the wave phase of the whole complex optical field. This technique can be applied in a wide spectral range where the Fresnel diffraction integral applies including visible, X-rays, acoustic waves, etc. We describe the technique and we include one-dimensional illustrative examples.
©2011 Optical Society of America
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