It is shown that three-dimensional nonparaxial beams are described by the oblate spheroidal exact solutions of the Helmholtz equation. For what is believed to be the first time, their beam behavior is investigated and their corresponding parameters are defined. Using the fact that the beam width of the family of paraxial Gaussian beams is described by a hyperbola, we formally establish the connection between the physical parameters of nonparaxial spheroidal beam solutions and those of paraxial beams. These results are also helpful for investigating exact vector nonparaxial beams.
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