Most authors include a paraxial (small-angle) limitation in their discussion of diffracted wave fields. This paraxial limitation severely limits the conditions under which diffraction behavior is adequately described. A linear systems approach to modeling nonparaxial scalar diffraction theory is developed by normalization of the spatial variables by the wavelength of light and by recognition that the reciprocal variables in Fourier transform space are the direction cosines of the propagation vectors of the resulting angular spectrum of plane waves. It is then shown that wide-angle scalar diffraction phenomena are shift invariant with respect to changes in the incident angle <i>only</i> in direction cosine space. Furthermore, it is the diffracted <i>radiance</i> (not the intensity or the irradiance) that is shift invariant in direction cosine space. This realization greatly extends the range of parameters over which simple Fourier techniques can be used to make accurate calculations concerning wide-angle diffraction phenomena. Diffraction-grating behavior and surface-scattering effects are two diffraction phenomena that are not limited to the paraxial region and benefit greatly from this new development.
© 1999 Optical Society of America
James E. Harvey, Cynthia L. Vernold, Andrey Krywonos, and Patrick L. Thompson, "Diffracted Radiance: A Fundamental Quantity in Nonparaxial Scalar Diffraction Theory," Appl. Opt. 38, 6469-6481 (1999)