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Gaussian beams

In optics, a Gaussian beam is a beam of

electromagnetic radiation whose transverse electric
field and intensity (irradiance) distributions are
described by Gaussian functions.

Many lasers emit beams with a Gaussian profile, in

which case the laser is said to be operating on the
fundamental transverse mode, or "TEM00 mode" of
the laser's optical resonator.

When refracted by a lens, a Gaussian beam is transformed into

another Gaussian beam (characterized by a different set of
parameters), which explains why it is a convenient, widespread
model in laser optics.
Paraxial wave equation for spherical waves

A Spherical wave travelling

E (r )  exp(ikr )
r outwards from r=0
r distance from the origin. The wavefronts are the surfaces kr=2pq
o r=q, q integer.

The concentric rings are separated by the radial disntance

For r far from the origin but close z i.e.

(x2+y2) 1/2<<z (paraxial approximation)
This is called the Fresnel approximation. It plays an important role in
simplifing the theory of transmission of optical waves through apertures

The phase factor k(x2+y2) /2z bends the planar wavefronts of the plane
wave into paraboloidal surfaces since the equation of a paraboloidal of
revolution is (x2+y2) /2z=cte
The assumption that A(r) varies slowly with respect to z, implies that
within a distance Dz=, the change DA <<A.
The Fundamental Gaussian Beam Mode Solution
in Cylindrical Coordinates
In cylindrical coordinates, r represents the perpendicular distance from the
axis of propagation, taken to be the z axis, and the angular coordinate is
represented by . In this coordinate system the paraxial wave equation is
 2U 1 U 1  2U U
   2ik 0
 r r r r  
2 2
we note that the simplest solution of the axially symmetric paraxial wave
equation can be written in the form
 ikr 2 
U ( r, z )  A( z )exp  
 2 q( z ) 
For the case of paraxial spherical equation solution:

A( z )  exp  ikz  and q(z)=z
Replacing in the PWE Falta un 2

 2U 1 U  ik k 2 r 2  kr 2
     2  A( z ) exp(i )
 r r r  q
q  2q

U  dA ikr 2 dq  kr 2
2ik  2ik   2 A( z )  exp( i )
z  dz 2q dz  2q

 A( z ) dA( z )  k 2 r 2  dq 
2ik     2 A( z )   1  0
 q dz  q  dz 

Since this equation must be satisfied for all r as well as all z, and given that the
first part depends only on z while the second part depends on rand z, the two
parts must individually be equal to zero. This gives us two relationships that
must be simultaneously satisfied:

dA( z ) A( z ) dq
=- and 1
dz q dz

The function q is called the complex beam parameter (since it is complex), but it
is often referred to simply as the beam parameter or Gaussian beam parameter.

What if q is complex?

 ikr 2   ikr 2  1  kr 2  1  
exp     exp      q 
 2 q   2   real
q 2  imag 
phase amplitude

We can see this starting with an equiphase surface having radius of curvature R
and defining f(r) to be the phase variation relative to a plane for a fixed value of z
as a function of r as shown in the figure. In the limit r < < R, the phase delay
incurred is approximately equal to

p r 2 kr 2
f (r)  
 R 2R
We thus make the important identification of the real part of 1/q with the
radius of curvature of the beam
1 1
q 
  real R
The second part of the exponential in equation is real and has a Gaussian
variation as a function of the distance from the axis of propagation.

f(r)= exp(-r2/w2)

1 2 
q  
 imag kw 2
( z ) p w 2
( z)
and thus define the beam radius w, which is the value of the radius at which the
field falls to 1/ e relative to its on-axis value. Since q is a function of z, the beam
radius as well as the radius of curvature will depend on the position along the axis
of propagation. With these definitions, we see that the function q is given by

1 1 i
 
q R( z ) p w2 ( z )
 ikr 2 
U ( r,0)  A(0)exp   Again using the definition of Gaussian function
 2q(0)  and if we define

w0   2q(0) / ik 
   q(0) / ip 
q(0)   ip w02 /  

 r 2 
U ( r,0)  A(0) exp  2 
 w0 
where w0 denotes the beam radius at z = 0, which is called the beam waist radius.
With this definition, we obtain a second important expression for q:

ip w02
q( z )  q(0)  z   z  z  izR

(p w02 /  ) 2
R( z )  z   z  z R2 / z
2 2
 z   z 
w( z )  w0 1   2 
 w 1   
 p wo 
 zR 
To complete our analysis of the basic Gaussian beam equation, we must use
the second of the pair of equations obtained from substituting our trial solution in
the paraxial wave equation. Using

dA( z ) A( z ) dq dA( z ) dz dq
=- and 1 =- =-
dz q dz A( z ) q q

A( z ) q(0) iz R 1  i( z / z R )
= = =
A(0) q( z ) z  iz R 1  ( z / z R ) 2

A( z ) w0
and using phasor notation = exp(i ) with   arctan( z / zR )
A(0) w( z )
 ikr 2 
Remembering that U ( r, z )  A( z )exp  
 2 q( z ) 
w0  r 2   ikr 2 
U ( r, z )  A(0) exp  2  exp  ikz   i 
w( z )  w ( z)   2 R( z ) 

1. Fundamental Gaussian Beam Mode in Rectangular Coordinates: 1D

It is possible to consider a beam that has variation in one coordinate
perpendicular to the axis of propagation but is uniform in the other coordinate.
Then, the paraxial wave equation for variation along the x axis only reduces to

Using the trial solution:

Demonstrate that the solution is

Here normalization has been used I,e

1. Fundamental Gaussian Beam Mode in Rectangular Coordinates: 2D

Trial solution
Complete Solution
Near Field vs Far Field
Typical parameters

Intensity on axis

z 
I0  0 
 z 
Beam radius

Beam intensity decreases to 1/e2 (14%) at the radial distance r= W(z).

W(z) is the beam radius.

For z>>z0 w(z)~(w0/ z0)z

Spot size

Beam divergence
Depth of Focus

The beam achieves its best focus a the plane z=0. In, either direction, the beam grows “out of focus”
The axial distance within which the beam radius lies within a factor 2 of its minimum value is known
On-axis Phase

kz  ( z )  kz  tan 1 ( z / z R )

This phase retardation correspond to an excess delay of the wavefront in

comparison with a plane wave.

The total accumulated excess retardation as the wave travel from z=- to
z= is p.

This phenomenon is known as the Gouy effect


1 kr 2
kz  ( z )  kz  tan ( z / z R ) 
2 R( z )

Front bending

It represent the deviation of the phase at

off-axis points in a given transverse plane
from that at the axial point.

q=z+izR z distance to the beam waist

zR is the Rayleigh distance (w0 can be determined)

Example q=3+i4 q-parameter is sufficient to characterize a GB

The linear dependence of the q-parameter on z allows determination of q

at all points, given q at a single point.

Example q1(z) and q(z+d)=q1 +d

Transmission through a thin lens

1 kr 2
kz  ( z )  kz  tan ( z / z R ) 
2 R( z )
The phase of the transmitted wave is altered to

Transmission through a thin lens
The transmitted wave is itself a Gaussian beam with width W’ = W and
radius of curvature R’,

Note that R is positive since the wavefront of the incident beam is

diverging and R’ is negative since the wavefront of the transmitted beam
is converging.

Using homework 1, if we know W and R’ then the beam waist W0’ and z’
may be known

A minus sign is used in since the waist lies to the right of the lens.
Transmission of a Gaussian beam through a thin
Substituting R = z[l+(zR/z)2] and W = W0[1+(z/zR)2]1/2 into Eqs.(1-3)
the following expressions, which relate the parameters of the two
beams, are obtained
Limit of Ray Optics

Lets take (z - f) >> zR, so that the lens is well outside the depth of focus
of the incident beam. The beam may then be approximated by a
spherical wave, and the parameter r<<1 so that MMr. Thus

These Eq. Are the relations provided by ray optics for the location and
size of a patch of light of diameter 2W0, located a distance z to the left
of a thin lens
Beam focusing
If a lens is placed at the waist of a Gaussian beam, the parameters of
the transmitted Gaussian beam are determined by substituting z = 0 in
Eq. for transmission through a thin lens

If the depth of focus of the incident beam 2zR,

is much longer than the focal length f of the
lens, then W0’d = ( f/zR)W0. Using z=pW02/,
we obtain
Reflection from a Spherical Mirror
The action of the mirror on a Gaussian beam of width W1 and radius of curvature
R1 is to reflect the beam and to modify its phase by the factor -kr2/R, keeping its
radius unaltered.

Thus the reflected beam remains Gaussian, with parameters W2 and R2 given by

If R = -2f
Write out a sequence of equations (just equations) to transfer the q parameter
through a convex lens followed by a concave lens whose focal lengths are f1
and f2 and with spacing among the source, lenses, and observation point as
shown in the Fig.

Starting from point S, the sequence of equations for the q parameter is