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Concept# Fresnel diffraction

Summary

In optics, the Fresnel diffraction equation for near-field diffraction is an approximation of the Kirchhoff–Fresnel diffraction that can be applied to the propagation of waves in the near field. It is used to calculate the diffraction pattern created by waves passing through an aperture or around an object, when viewed from relatively close to the object. In contrast the diffraction pattern in the far field region is given by the Fraunhofer diffraction equation.
The near field can be specified by the Fresnel number, F, of the optical arrangement. When the diffracted wave is considered to be in the Fraunhofer field. However, the validity of the Fresnel diffraction integral is deduced by the approximations derived below. Specifically, the phase terms of third order and higher must be negligible, a condition that may be written as
where is the maximal angle described by a and L the same as in the definition of the Fresnel number.
The multiple Fresnel diffraction at closely spaced periodical ridges (ridged mirror) causes the specular reflection; this effect can be used for atomic mirrors.
Some of the earliest work on what would become known as Fresnel diffraction was carried out by Francesco Maria Grimaldi in Italy in the 17th century. In his monograph entitled "Light", Richard C. MacLaurin explains Fresnel diffraction by asking what happens when light propagates, and how that process is affected when a barrier with a slit or hole in it is interposed in the beam produced by a distant source of light. He uses the Principle of Huygens to investigate, in classical terms, what transpires. The wave front that proceeds from the slit and on to a detection screen some distance away very closely approximates a wave front originating across the area of the gap without regard to any minute interactions with the actual physical edge.
The result is that if the gap is very narrow only diffraction patterns with bright centers can occur. If the gap is made progressively wider, then diffraction patterns with dark centers will alternate with diffraction patterns with bright centers.

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Fresnel number

The Fresnel number (F), named after the physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, is a dimensionless number occurring in optics, in particular in scalar diffraction theory. For an electromagnetic wave passing through an aperture and hitting a screen, the Fresnel number F is defined as where is the characteristic size (e.g. radius) of the aperture is the distance of the screen from the aperture is the incident wavelength.

Kirchhoff's diffraction formula

Kirchhoff's diffraction formula (also called Fresnel–Kirchhoff diffraction formula) approximates light intensity and phase in optical diffraction: light fields in the boundary regions of shadows. The approximation can be used to model light propagation in a wide range of configurations, either analytically or using numerical modelling. It gives an expression for the wave disturbance when a monochromatic spherical wave is the incoming wave of a situation under consideration.

Fraunhofer diffraction

In optics, the Fraunhofer diffraction equation is used to model the diffraction of waves when plane waves are incident on a diffracting object, and the diffraction pattern is viewed at a sufficiently long distance (a distance satisfying Fraunhofer condition) from the object (in the far-field region), and also when it is viewed at the focal plane of an imaging lens. In contrast, the diffraction pattern created near the diffracting object and (in the near field region) is given by the Fresnel diffraction equation.

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