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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 12, Iss. 1 — Jan. 1, 1995
  • pp: 162–176

Light scattering by hexagonal ice crystals: comparison of finite-difference time domain and geometric optics models

Ping Yang and K. N. Liou  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 12, Issue 1, pp. 162-176 (1995)

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We have developed a finite-difference time domain (FDTD) method and a novel geometric ray-tracing model for the calculation of light scattering by hexagonal ice crystals. In the FDTD method we use a staggered Cartesian grid with the implementation of an efficient absorbing boundary condition for the truncation of the computation domain. We introduce the Maxwell–Garnett rule to compute the mean values of the dielectric constant at grid points to reduce the inaccuracy produced by the staircasing approximation. The phase matrix elements and the scattering efficiencies for the scattering of visible light by two-dimensional long circular ice cylinders match closely those computed from the exact solution for size parameters as large as 60, with maximum differences less than 5%. In the new ray-tracing model we invoke the principle of geometric optics to evaluate the reflection and the refraction of localized waves, from which the electric and magnetic fields at the particle surface (near field) can be computed. Based on the equivalence theorem, the near field can subsequently be transformed to the far field, in which the phase interferences are fully accounted for. The phase functions and the scattering efficiencies for hexagonal ice crystals computed from the new geometric ray-tracing method compare reasonably well with the FDTD results for size parameters larger than approximately 20. When absorption is involved in geometric ray tracing, the adjusted real and imaginary refractive indices and Fresnel formulas are derived for practical applications based on the fundamental wave theory.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: June 7, 1994
Revised Manuscript: August 22, 1994
Manuscript Accepted: August 23, 1994
Published: January 1, 1995

Ping Yang and K. N. Liou, "Light scattering by hexagonal ice crystals: comparison of finite-difference time domain and geometric optics models," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 12, 162-176 (1995)

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