Summary
A collimated beam of light or other electromagnetic radiation has parallel rays, and therefore will spread minimally as it propagates. A perfectly collimated light beam, with no divergence, would not disperse with distance. However, diffraction prevents the creation of any such beam. Light can be approximately collimated by a number of processes, for instance by means of a collimator. Perfectly collimated light is sometimes said to be focused at infinity. Thus, as the distance from a point source increases, the spherical wavefronts become flatter and closer to plane waves, which are perfectly collimated. Other forms of electromagnetic radiation can also be collimated. In radiology, X-rays are collimated to reduce the volume of the patient's tissue that is irradiated, and to remove stray photons that reduce the quality of the x-ray image ("film fog"). In scintigraphy, a gamma ray collimator is used in front of a detector to allow only photons perpendicular to the surface to be detected. The term collimated may also be applied to particle beams – a collimated particle beam – where typically shielding blocks of high density materials (such as lead, bismuth alloys, etc.) may be used to absorb or block peripheral particles from a desired forward direction, especially a sequence of such absorbing collimators. This method of particle collimation is routinely deployed and is ubiquitous in every particle accelerator complex in the world. An additional method enabling this same forward collimation effect, less well studied, may deploy strategic nuclear polarization (magnetic polarization of nuclei) if the requisite reactions are designed into any given experimental applications. The word "collimate" comes from the Latin verb collimare, which originated in a misreading of collineare, "to direct in a straight line". Laser light from gas or crystal lasers is highly collimated because it is formed in an optical cavity between two parallel mirrors which constrain the light to a path perpendicular to the surfaces of the mirrors.
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Beam divergence
In electromagnetics, especially in optics, beam divergence is an angular measure of the increase in beam diameter or radius with distance from the optical aperture or antenna aperture from which the beam emerges. The term is relevant only in the "far field", away from any focus of the beam. Practically speaking, however, the far field can commence physically close to the radiating aperture, depending on aperture diameter and the operating wavelength.
Collimated beam
A collimated beam of light or other electromagnetic radiation has parallel rays, and therefore will spread minimally as it propagates. A perfectly collimated light beam, with no divergence, would not disperse with distance. However, diffraction prevents the creation of any such beam. Light can be approximately collimated by a number of processes, for instance by means of a collimator. Perfectly collimated light is sometimes said to be focused at infinity.
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A curved mirror is a mirror with a curved reflecting surface. The surface may be either convex (bulging outward) or concave (recessed inward). Most curved mirrors have surfaces that are shaped like part of a sphere, but other shapes are sometimes used in optical devices. The most common non-spherical type are parabolic reflectors, found in optical devices such as reflecting telescopes that need to image distant objects, since spherical mirror systems, like spherical lenses, suffer from spherical aberration.
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