A criterion is established for determining when portions of a wave front can be said to be optically isolated from the rest of the wave front in the sense that they can subsequently be treated separately when one is considering the formation of images. The subarea of the wave front is treated as a separate aperture, and it is said to be isolated if diffraction maxima for the majority of the wave front fall at or beyond the first minima for the subarea. An illustrative example employing two circular unequal-diameter apertures is presented. A method is given for identifying portions of wave front that may be optically isolated; the method uses the technique of fitting a reference surface to the actual wave front and then finding what is defined as the differential deflection of the actual surface with respect to the reference surface at all locations. Subpopulations of locations with similar differential deflection values, sufficient numbers, and sufficient differential deflection are candidates for area of optical isolation.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
(350.5730) Other areas of optics : Resolution
Original Manuscript: December 8, 1997
Revised Manuscript: April 22, 1998
Manuscript Accepted: May 1, 1998
Published: September 1, 1998
Charles Campbell, "Optical isolation of portions of a wave front," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 2530-2535 (1998)