A method is described for measuring various laser beam characteristics with modest experimental complexity by digital processing of the near and far field images. Gaussian spot sizes, peak intensities, and spatial distributions of the images are easily found. Far field beam focusability is determined by computationally applying apertures of circular or elliptical diameters to the digitized image. Visualization of the magnitude of phase and intensity distortions is accomplished by comparing the 2-D fast Fourier transform of both smoothed and unsmoothed near field data to the actual far field data. The digital processing may be performed on current personal computers to give the experimenter unprecedented capabilities for rapid beam characterization at relatively low cost.
Michael D. Duncan and Rita Mahon, "Beam quality measurements using digitized laser beam images," Appl. Opt. 28, 4569-4575 (1989)