Although maximal localization is a basic notion in the consideration of phase-space representations of fields, it has not yet been pursued for general wave fields. We develop measures of spatial and directional spreads for nonparaxial waves in free space. These measures are invariant under translation and rotation and are shown to reduce to the conventional ones when applied to paraxial fields. The associated uncertainty relation sets limits to joint localization in coordinate and frequency space. This relation provides a basis for the definition of a joint localization measure that is analogous to the beam propagation factor (i.e., M<sup>2</sup>) of paraxial optics. The results are first developed for two-dimensional fields and then generalized to three dimensions.
© 2000 Optical Society of America
(030.1670) Coherence and statistical optics : Coherent optical effects
(070.2590) Fourier optics and signal processing : ABCD transforms
(260.2160) Physical optics : Energy transfer
(350.5730) Other areas of optics : Resolution
(350.7420) Other areas of optics : Waves
M. A. Alonso and G. W. Forbes, "Uncertainty products for nonparaxial wave fields," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 2391-2402 (2000)