Publication # 207

R. Piestun and D. A. B. Miller, "Electromagnetic Degrees of Freedom of an Optical System," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 892–902 (2000)

We present a rigorous electromatnetic formalism for defining, evaluating, and optimizing the degrees of freedom of an optical system. The analysis is valid for the delivery of information with electromagnetic waves under arbitrary boundary conditions communicating between domains in 3D space. We show that, although in principle there is an infinity of degrees of freedom, the effective number is finite due to the presence of noise. This is in agreement with the restricted classical theories that showed this property for specific optical systems and withing the scalar and paraxial approximation. We further show that the best transmitting and receivign functions are the solutions of well-defined eigenvalue equations. The present approach is useful for understanding and designing modern optical systems, for which the previous approaches are not applicabel, as well as for the application in inverse and synthesis problems.

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