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An intuitive approach to structuring the three electric field components of light.

Maucher, F. and Skupin, S. and Gardiner, S. A. and Hughes, I. G. (2019) 'An intuitive approach to structuring the three electric field components of light.', New journal of physics., 21 . 013032.


This paper presents intuitive interpretations of tightly focused beams of light by drawing analogies with two-dimensional electrostatics, magnetostatics and fluid dynamics. We use a Helmholtz decomposition of the transverse electric field components in the transverse plane to introduce generalized radial and azimuthal polarization states. This reveals the interplay between transverse and longitudinal electric field components in a transparent fashion. Our approach yields a comprehensive understanding of tightly focused laser beams, which we illustrate through several insightful examples.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.
Date accepted:07 December 2018
Date deposited:13 February 2019
Date of first online publication:30 January 2019
Date first made open access:No date available

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