In most laser applications it is necessary to focus, modify, or

shape the laser beam by using lenses and other optical elements. In
general, laser-beam propagation can be approximated by assum-
ing that the laser beam has an ideal Gaussian intensity profile,
corresponding to the theoretical TEM
00
mode. Coherent Gaussian
beams have peculiar transformation properties that require special
consideration. In order to select the best optics for a particular laser
application, it is important to understand the basic properties of
Gaussian beams. Unfortunately, the output from real-life lasers is
not truly Gaussian (although helium neon lasers and argon-ion
lasers are a very close approximation). To accommodate this variance,
a quality factor, M
2
(called the “M-square” factor), has been defined
to describe the deviation of the laser beam from a theoretical
Gaussian. For a theoretical Gaussian, M
2
=1; for a real laser beam,
M
2
>1. Helium neon lasers typically have an M
2
factor that is less
than 1.1. For ion lasers, the M
2
factor is typically between 1.1 and
1.3. Collimated TEM
00
diode laser beams usually have an M
2
factor
ranging from 1.1 to 1.7. For high-energy multimode lasers, the M
2
factor can be as high as 3 or 4. In all cases, the M
2
factor, which
varies significantly, affects the characteristics of a laser beam and
cannot be neglected in optical designs.
In the following discussion, we will first treat the characteristics
of a theoretical Gaussian beam (M
2
= 1) and then show how these
characteristics change as the beam deviates from the theoretical. In
all cases, a circularly symmetric wavefront is assumed, as would be
the case for a helium neon laser or an argon-ion laser. Diode laser
beams are asymmetric and often astigmatic, which causes their
transformation to be more complex.
Although in some respects component design and tolerancing
for lasers are more critical than they are for conventional optical
components, the designs often tend to be simpler since many of
the constants associated with imaging systems are not present. For
instance, laser beams are nearly always used on axis, which eliminates
the need to correct asymmetric aberration. Chromatic aberrations
are of no concern in single-wavelength lasers, although they are
critical for some tunable and multiline laser applications. In fact, the
only significant aberration in most single-wavelength applications
is primary (third-order) spherical aberration.
Scatter from surface defects, inclusions, dust, or damaged coat-
ings is of greater concern in laser-based systems than in incoherent
systems. Speckle content arising from surface texture and beam
coherence can limit system performance.
Because laser light is generated coherently, it is not subject to
some of the limitations normally associated with incoherent sources.
All parts of the wavefront act as if they originate from the same
point, and consequently the emergent wavefront can be precisely
defined. Starting out with a well-defined wavefront permits more
precise focusing and control of the beam than would otherwise be
possible.
In order to gain an appreciation of the principles and limitations
of Gaussian beam optics, it is necessary to understand the nature of
the laser output beam. In TEM
00
mode, the beam emitted from a laser
is a perfect plane wave with a Gaussian transverse irradiance profile
as shown in figure 2.1. The Gaussian shape is truncated at some
diameter either by the internal dimensions of the laser or by some
limiting aperture in the optical train. To specify and discuss propa-
gation characteristics of a laser beam, we must define its diameter
in some way. The commonly adopted definition is the diameter at
which the beam irradiance (intensity) has fallen to 1/e
2
(13.5%) of its
peak, or axial, value.
BEAM WAIST AND DIVERGENCE
Diffraction causes light waves to spread transversely as they
propagate, and it is therefore impossible to have a perfectly collimated
beam. The spreading of a laser beam is in precise accord with the
predictions of pure diffraction theory; aberration is totally insignif-
icant in the present context. Under quite ordinary circumstances,
the beam spreading can be so small it can go unnoticed. The fol-
lowing formulas accurately describe beam spreading, making it
easy to see the capabilities and limitations of laser beams. The
notation is consistent with much of the laser literature, particularly
with Siegman’s excellent Introduction to Lasers and Masers
(McGraw-Hill).
Introduction to Gaussian Beam Optics
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2.2 1 Visit Us OnLine! www.mellesgriot.com
Figure 2.1 Irradiance profile of a Gaussian TEM
00
mode
13.5
CONTOUR RADIUS
41.5w 1.5w
20
40
60
80
100
4w 0 w
P
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I
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Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.2
Visit Us Online! www.mellesgriot.com 12.3
where z is the distance propagated from the plane where the wavefront
is flat, l is the wavelength of light, w
0
is the radius of
the 1/e
2
irradiance contour at the plane where the wavefront is flat, w(z)
is the radius of the 1/e
2
contour after the wave has propagated a
distance z, and R(z) is the wavefront radius of curvature after
propagating a distance z. R(z) is infinite at z = 0, passes through
a minimum at some finite z, and rises again toward infinity as
z is further increased, asymptotically approaching the value of z itself.
The plane z = 0 marks the location of a Gaussian waist, or a place
where the wavefront is flat, and w
0
is called the beam waist radius.
A waist occurs naturally at the midplane of a symmetric confocal
cavity. Another waist occurs at the surface of the planar mirror
of the quasi-hemispherical cavity used in many Melles Griot lasers.
The irradiance distribution of the Gaussian TEM
00
beam,
namely,
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s
R(z) = z 1 +
w
z
and
w(z) = w
z
w
0
2
0
0
2
p
l
l
p
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
,
]
]
]
]
]
+
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
]
]
]
]
2
2
1 2
1
/
Even if a Gaussian TEM
00
laser-beam wavefront were made
perfectly flat at some plane, with all elements moving in precisely
parallel directions, it would quickly acquire curvature and begin
spreading in accordance with
where w = w(z) and P is the total power in the beam, is the same
at all cross sections of the beam. The invariance of the form of the
distribution is a special consequence of the presumed Gaussian
distribution at z = 0. If a uniform irradiance distribution had been
presumed at z = 0, the pattern at z = ∞would have been the familiar
Airy disc pattern given by a Bessel function, while the pattern at
intermediate z values would have been enormously complicated. (See
Born and Wolf, Principles of Optics, 2d ed, Pergamon/ Macmillan).
Simultaneously, as R(z) asymptotically approaches z for large
z, w(z) asymptotically approaches the value
where z is presumed to be much larger than pw
0
/l so that the 1/e
2
irradiance contours asymptotically approach a cone of angular
radius
This value is the far-field angular radius of the Gaussian TEM
00
beam. The vertex of the cone lies at the center of the waist (see
figure 2.2).
It is important to note that, for a given value of l, variations of
beam diameter and divergence with distance z are functions of a
single parameter. This is often chosen to be w
0
, or the beam waist
radius.
The direct relationship between beam waist and divergence
(v ∝1/w
0
) must always be considered when focusing a TEM
00
laser
beam. Because of this relationship, the spectrally selective coating
of the spherical output mirror of a Melles Griot laser is actually sup-
ported on the concave inner surface of a weak meniscus lens. In
this paraxial, high f-number configuration, the lens introduces no
significant aberration. A new beam waist, larger than the intra-
cavity beam waist, is formed by this lens near its output pupil. The
transformed beam has greatly reduced divergence, which is
advantageous for most applications. Note that it is the 1/e
2
beam
diameter of this extracavity waist that is published in this catalog.
As an example to illustrate the relationship between beam waist
and divergence, let us consider the real case of a Melles Griot red
5-mW HeNe laser, 05 LHR 151, with a specified beam diameter of
0.8 mm (i.e., w
0
= 0.4 mm). In the far-field region,
I (r) = I e =
2P
w
e
0
2r w
2
2r w
2 2 2 2
4 4 / /
,
p
w(z)
z
w
0

l
p
v
l
p
=
w(z)
z
=
w
0
.
w
w0
w0
z
w
0
1
e
2
irradiance surface
v
a
sy
m
p
to
tic co
n
e
Figure 2.2 Growth in 1/e
2
contour radius with distance
propagated away from Gaussian waist
(2.2)
(2.1)
(2.3)
(2.4)
(2.5)
Using the asymptotic approximation, at a distance of z = 100 m,
v
p p
=
w
=
632.8
( (0.4)
= 5.04 10 rad.
0
6
4
l ×
×
10
5
5
)
w(z) = z
= (10 5.04 10
= 50.4 mm
5 4
v
)( ) ×
4
which is approximately 126 times larger than w
0
.
Chpt. 2 Final 9/2/99 4:07 PM Page 2.3
2.4 1 Visit Us OnLine! www.mellesgriot.com
For the expanded beam, the ratio w(z)/w
0
is only a factor of 12.6
for a distance of 100 m, but it is a factor of 126 for the same distance
when the laser is used alone.
graphically in figure 2.4. If we put this value for w
0
(optimum) back
into the expression for w(z), w(z) = √}} 2 w
0
. Thus, for this example,
w(100) = √}} 2 (4.48) = 6.3 mm.
By turning this previous equation around, we can define a
distance, called the Rayleigh range (z
R
), over which the beam radius
spreads by a factor of √}} 2 as
If we use beam-expanding optics (such as the 09 LBC, 09 LBX,
09 LBZ, or 09 LCM series), which allow us to adjust the position
of the beam waist, we can actually double the distance over which
beam divergence is minimized. Figure 2.5 illustrates this situation,
in which the beam starts off at a value of w(z
R
) = (2lz /p)
1/2
, goes
through a minimum value of w
0
= w(z
R
)/√}} 2 , and then returns to
w(z
R
). By focusing the beam-expanding optics to place the beam
waist at the midpoint, we can restrict beam spread to a factor of √}} 2
over a distance of 2z
R
, as opposed to just z
R
.
This result can now be used in the problem of finding the starting
beam radius that yields the minimum beam diameter and beam
spread over 100 m. Using 2z
R
= 100, or z
R
= 50, and l= 632.8 nm,
we get a value of w(z
R
) = (2lz /p)
1/2
= 4.5 mm, and w
0
= 3.2 mm.
Thus, the optimum starting beam radius is the same as previously
calculated. However, by focusing the expander we achieve a final
beam radius that is no larger than our starting beam radius, while
still maintaining the √}} 2 factor in overall variation.
Alternately, if we started off with a beam radius of 6.3 mm
(√}} 2 w
0
), we could focus the expander to provide a beam waist of
w
0
= 4.5 mm at 100 m, and a final beam radius of 6.3 mm at 200 m.
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OPTIMUMCOLLIMATION
Typically, one has a fixed value for w
0
and uses the previously given
expression to calculate w(z) for an input value of z. However, one can
also utilize this equation to see how final beam radius varies with start-
ing beam radius at a fixed distance, z. Figure 2.4 shows the Gaussian
beam propagation equation plotted as a function of w
0
, with the
particular values of l = 632.8 nm and z = 100 m.
The beam radius at 100 m reaches a minimum value for a starting
beam radius of about 4.5 mm. Therefore, if we wanted to achieve
the best combination of minimum beam diameter and minimum
beam spread (or best collimation) over a distance of 100 m, our
optimum starting beam radius would be 4.5 mm. Any other starting
value would result in a larger beam at z = 100 m.
We can find the general expression for the optimum starting
beam radius for a given distance, z. Doing so yields
Using this optimum value of w
0
will provide the best combina-
tion of minimum starting beam diameter and minimum beam
spread (ratio of w(z)/w
0
) over the distance z. The previous example
of z = 100 and l=632.8 nm gives w
0
(optimum) = 4.48 mm, shown
STARTING BEAM RADIUS w0 (mm)
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20
40
60
80
100
Figure 2.4 Beam radius at 100 m as a function of starting
beam radius for a HeNe laser at 632.8 nm
w (optimum) =
z
0
1/2
l
p
j
(
,
\
,
(
.
(2.6)
Figure 2.3 Laser beam expander 09 LBM 013 (reversed
telescope)
w(z) =
(10
= 5.04 mm.
5 4
)( . ) 5 04 10
10
×
5
Suppose instead that we decide to reduce the divergence
by directing the laser into a beam expander (reversed telescope)
of angular magnification m = 10, such as Melles Griot model
09 LBM013 (figure 2.3). Consider the case in which the expander
is focused to form a waist of radius w
0
= 4.0 mm at the expander
output lens. Since v ∝ 1/w
0
, by definition, v is reduced by a factor
of 10; therefore, for z = 100 m,
z =
w
with
w(z w
R
0
2
R 0
p
l
) . 2
(2.7)
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.4
Visit Us Online! www.mellesgriot.com 12.5
INCORPORATING M
2
INTO THE BASIC EQUATIONS
The following discussion is taken from the analysis by Sun [Haiyin
Sun, “Thin Lens Equation for a Real Laser Beam with Weak Lens
Aperture Truncation,” Opt. Eng. 37, no. 11 (November 1998)]. From
equation 2.5 we see that, for a theoretical Gaussian beam, the small-
est possible value of the radius-divergence product is
w
0
v = l/p.
For a real laser beam, we have
w
0M
v
M
= M
2
l/p >l/p
where w
0M
and v
M
are the 1/e
2
intensity waist radius and the far-
field half-divergent angle of the real laser beam, respectively, and
M
2
factors into equations 2.1 and 2.2 as follows:
w
M
(z) = w
0M
[1+(zlM
2
/pw
0M
2
)
2
]
1/2
R
M
(z) = z[1+(pw
0M
2
/zlM
2
)
2
]
where w
M
and R
M
are the 1/e
2
intensity radius of the beam and the
beam wavefront radius at z, respectively.
The definition for the Rayleigh range (equation 2.7) remains
the same for a real laser beam and becomes
z
R
= pw
0R
2
/l.
Together, equations 2.9, 2.10, and 2.11 form a complete set to
denote the input of a real laser beam into a thin lens.
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beam expander
w
0
zR zR
w(–zR) = √2w0
w(zR) = √2w0
Figure 2.5 Focusing a beam expander to minimize beam
radius and spread over a specified distance
(2.8)
(2.9)
(2.10)
(2.11)
Melles Griot manufactures many types of lasers and
laser systems for laboratory and OEM applications.
These, along with a wide variety of laser accessories, are
found in Chapter 41 through 47. Laser types include
helium neon (HeNe) and helium cadmium (HeCd) lasers;
argon, krypton, and mixed gas (argon/krypton) ion
lasers; diode lasers, and diode-pumped solid-state
(DPSS) lasers.
LASERS AND LASER SYSTEMS
Chpt. 2 Final 9/2/99 4:05 PM Page 2.5
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2.6 1 Visit Us OnLine! www.mellesgriot.com
Transformation and Magnification by Simple Lenses
It is already clear from the previous discussion that Gaussian
beams transform in an unorthodox manner. Siegman uses matrix
transformations to treat the general problem of Gaussian beam
propagation with lenses and mirrors. A less rigorous, but in many
ways more insightful, approach to this problem has been developed
by Self [S.A. Self, “Focusing of Spherical Gaussian Beams,” Appl.
Opt. 22, no. 5 (March 1983): 658]. Self shows a method to model
transformations of a laser beam through simple optics, under
paraxial conditions, by calculating the Rayleigh range and beam
waist location following each individual optical element. These
parameters are calculated using a formula analogous to the
well-known standard lens formula. Melles Griot engineers have
found this method to be particularly useful. The main points are as
follows.
The standard lens equation can be written in dimensionless
form:
1
s + z s f)
+
1
s
=
1
f
or, in dimensionless form,
1
(s/f) + (z /f) /(s/f 1)
+
1
(s /f)
= 1.
R
2
R
2
/( 4
4


1
s/f
+
1
s /f
= 1.

For Gaussian beams, Self has derived an analogous formula by
assuming that the waist of the input beam represents the object,
and the waist of the output beam represents the image. The for-
mula is expressed in terms of the Rayleigh range of the input beam.
In the regular form,
In the far-field limit as z
R
→ 0, this reduces to the geometric
optics equation. A plot of (s/f) versus (s″/f) for various values of
(z
R
/f) is shown in figure 2.6. There are three distinct regions of
interest. For a positive thin lens, these correspond to real object
and real image, real object and virtual image, and virtual object
and real image.
The main differences between Gaussian beam optics and
geometric optics, highlighted in such a plot, can be summarized as
follows:
$ There is a maximum and minimum image distance for
Gaussian beams.
$ The maximum image distance occurs at s = f + z
R
, rather than
at s = f.
$ There is a common point in the Gaussian beam expression
at s/f = s″/f =1. For a simple positive lens, this is the point at
which the incident beam has a waist at the front focus and the
emerging beam has a waist at the rear focus.
(2.12)
(2.13)
(2.14)
Figure 2.6 Plot of the lens formula for Gaussian beams,
with normalized Rayleigh range of the input beam as
the parameter
0
1
2
4
5
41 0 1 2 3 4 5
3
0
0.25
1
2
parameter
z
R
f
( )
I
M
A
G
E

D
I
S
T
A
N
C
E
(
s
"
/
f
)
OBJECT DISTANCE (s/f)
0.50
42 43 44 45
41
42
43
44
$ A lens appears to have a shorter focal length as z
R
/f increases
from zero (i.e., there is a Gaussian focal shift).
Self recommends calculating z
R
, w
0
, and the position of w
0
for
each optical element in the system in turn so that the overall trans-
formation of the beam can be calculated. To carry this out, it is
also necessary to consider magnification: w
0
″/w
0
. The magnification
is given by
m =
w
w
=
1
1 (s/f) +(z /f)
0
0
R

4
[ ]
¦
¦
¦
¦
¦
¦
2
2
.
z = m z
R
2
R
″ .
The Rayleigh range of the output beam depends on m
2
, as can
be seen from the previous example, and is given by
All the above formulas are written in terms of the Rayleigh range
of the input beam. Unlike the geometric case, the formulas are not
symmetric with respect to input and output beam parameters. For
back tracing beams, it is useful to know the Gaussian beam formula
in terms of the Rayleigh range of the output beam:
1
s
+
1
s + z /(s f )
=
1
f
.
R
″ ″ ″
2
4
(2.15)
(2.16)
(2.17)
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.6
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M
2
AND THE LENS EQUATION
For real-world beams, the lens equation can be modified to
incorporate M
2
. Equation 2.12 becomes
1/[s+(z
R
/M
2
)
2
/(s-f)]+1/2″ = 1/f,
and equation 2.14 transforms to
1/[(s/f)+(z
R
/M
2
f)
2
/(s/f-1)]+1/(s″/f) = 1.
BEAM CONCENTRATION
The spot size and focal position of a Gaussian beam can be
determined from the previous equations. Two cases of particular
interest occur when s = 0 (the input waist is at the first principal
surface of the lens system) and s = f (the input waist is at the front
focal point of the optical system). For s = 0, we get
If a particularly small spot is desired, there is an advantage to
using a well-corrected high-numerical-aperture microscope objective
(see Chapter 29, Microscope Components, Spatial Filters and
Apertures) to concentrate the laser beam. The principal advantage
of the microscope objective over a simple lens is the diminished
level of spherical aberration. Although microscope objectives are
often used for this purpose, they are never designed for use at the
infinite conjugate ratio. Suitably optimized lens systems, which
Melles Griot can design and build on special request, are more
effective in beam-concentration tasks.
DEPTH OF FOCUS
Depth of focus (±Dz), that is, the range in image space over
which the focused spot diameter remains below an arbitrary limit,
can be derived from the formula
For the case of s = f, the equations for image distance and waist
size reduce to the following:
Substituting typical values into these equations yields nearly
identical results, and for most applications, the simpler, second set
of equations can be used.
In many applications, a primary aim is to focus the laser to a very
small spot, as shown in figure 2.7, by using either a single lens or a
combination of several lenses. Melles Griot has designed a series of
single lenses optimized for this specific purpose. For example, by
using a 05 LHR 151 laser and a focusing singlet, 01 LFS 033, the
formula should be modified as follows:
The factor 4/3 arises because of the careful balance of spherical
aberration and diffraction designed into the singlet. The ratio f/w
is proportional to lens f-number, but is not equal to it.
s =
f
1 + ( f/ w
w

=

f/ w
1

+

( f/ w
.
0
2
0
0
2

l p
l p
l p
)
)
/
2
2
1 2
[ ]
s = f
w

=

f/ w
0

l p
.
w(z)
4 f
3 w
=
4(632.8 10
)
= 4.70 10 mm
= 4.7 m.
6
3

×
×
l
p p
m
4
4
)( )
( )( .
7
3 0 4
w(z) = w 1 +
z
w
0
0
2
l
p
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
]
]
]
]
2
1 2 /
.
Dz
0.32 w
0
2
≈ ±
p
l
.
Dz =
0.32
6328 10
= 35.1 m.
3
7
±
×
×
±
p
m
( . ) 4 70 10
2 4
4
The first step in performing a depth-of-focus calculation is to set
the allowable degree of spot size variation. If we choose a typical
value of 5%, or w(z) = 1.05w
0
, and solve for z = Dz, the result is
By applying this result to the combination of the 05 LHR151
laser and laser-line focusing singlet 01 LFS 033, we find
Since the depth of focus is proportional to the square of focal
spot size, and focal spot size is directly related to f-number, the
depth of focus is proportional to the square of the f-number of the
focusing system.
(2.20)
(2.18)
(2.19)
(2.21)
(2.22)
and
and
w
Dbeam
1
e
2
2w0
Figure 2.7 Concentration of a laser beam by a laser-line
focusing singlet
Chpt. 2 Final 10/11/99 9:08 AM Page 2.7
The k function, plotted in figure 2.10, permits calculation of
on-axis spot diameter for any beam truncation ratio.
The optimal choice for truncation ratio depends on the relative
importance of spot size, peak spot intensity, and total power in the
spot as demonstrated in the table below. The total power loss in
the spot can be calculated by using
for a truncated Gaussian beam. A good compromise between power
loss and spot size is often a truncation ratio of one. When T = 2
(approximately uniform illumination), fractional power loss is 60%.
When T = 1, d
1/e
2 is just 8.0% larger than when T = 2, while fractional
power loss is down to 13.5%. Because of this large savings in power
with relatively little growth in the spot diameter, truncation ratios
of 0.7 to 1.0 are typically used. Ratios as low as 0.5 might be
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P = e
L
2(D /D
t b
4 )
2
(2.27)
d = 50% intensity point
and
d = 13.5% intensity point.
It is helpful to introduce the truncation ratio
T

=

D
D
FWHM
1/e
b
t
2
(2.24)
.1
.2
.3
.4
.5
.6
.7
.8
.9
1.0
I
N
T
E
N
S
I
T
Y
2.44 l (f-number)
13.5%
intensity
50%
intensity
Figure 2.8 Airy disc intensity distribution at the image
plane
Figure 2.9 Gaussian intensity distribution at the image
plane
.1
.2
.3
.4
.5
.6
.7
.8
.9
1.0
I
N
T
E
N
S
I
T
Y
1.83 l (f-number)
13.5%
intensity
50%
intensity
profile results as shown in figure 2.9. When the pupil illumination
is between these two extremes, a hybrid intensity profile results.
In the case of the Airy disc, the intensity falls to zero at the
point d
zero
= 2.44 !l !f/#, defining the diameter of the spot (see
figure 2.8). When the pupil illumination is not uniform, the image
spot intensity never falls to zero making it necessary to define the
diameter at some other point. This is commonly done for two
points:
K = +
0.7125
(T 0.2161)

0.6445
(T 0.2161)
FWHM
2.179 2.221
1 029 .
4
4
4
K

=

1.6449

+

0.6460
(T 0.2816) (T 0.2816)
1/e
1.821 1.891
2
4
4
4
0 5320 .
.
where D
b
is the Gaussian beam diameter measured at the 1/e
2
intensity point, and D
t
is the limiting aperture diameter of the lens.
If T = 2, which approximates uniform illumination, the image spot
intensity profile approaches that of the classic Airy disc. When
T = 1, the Gaussian profile is truncated at the 1/e
2
diameter, and the
spot profile is clearly a hybrid between an Airy pattern and a
Gaussian distribution. When T = 0.5, which approximates the case
for an untruncated Gaussian input beam, the spot intensity profile
approaches a Gaussian distribution.
Calculation of spot diameter for these or other truncation ratios
requires that K be evaluated. This is done by using the formulas
(2.25)
(2.26)
TRUNCATION
In a diffraction-limited lens, the diameter of the image spot is
where K is a constant dependent on truncation ratio and pupil
illumination, lis the wavelength of light, and f/# is the speed of the
lens at truncation. The intensity profile of the spot is strongly depen-
dent on the intensity profile of the radiation filling the entrance
pupil of the lens. For uniform pupil illumination, the image spot takes
on an Airy disc intensity profile as shown in figure 2.8. If the pupil
illumination is Gaussian in profile, an image spot of Gaussian
(2.23)
d = K f/# × × l
and
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.8
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Figure 2.11 Spatial filtering smoothes the irradiance
distribution
Modular and Multiaxis Spatial Filters
The Melles Griot range of spatial filters includes
a three-axis unit with precision micrometers
(07 SFM 001) and a compact five-axis version
(07 SFM 003). These devices feature an open design
that provides access to the beam as it passes
through the instrument. Details of these products
and standard microscope objectives and mounted
pinholes that work with these spatial filters are
described in Chapter 29, Microscope Components,
Spatial Filters, and Apertures.
For those who wish to fabricate their own spatial
filters, unmounted pinholes can also be found in
Chapter 29, Microscope Components, Spatial Filters,
and Apertures. The precision individual pinholes are
for general-purpose spatial-filtering tasks. The high-
energy laser precision pinholes are constructed
specifically to withstand irradiation from high-energy
lasers.
APPLICATION NOTE
employed when laser power must be conserved. However, this low
value often wastes too much of the available clear aperture of the
lens.
Spot Diameters and Fractional Power Loss
for Three Values of Truncation
Truncation Ratio d
FWHM
d
1/e
2 d
zero
P
L
(%)
Infinity
2.0
1.0
0.5
1.03
1.05
1.13
1.54
1.64
1.69
1.83
2.51
2.44



100
60
13.5
0.03
The mathematics of the effects of truncation on a real-world
laser beam are beyond the scope of this chapter. Suffice it to say that
truncation, in general, increases the M
2
factor of the beam. For an
in-depth treatment of this problem, please refer to the
aforementioned paper by Haiyin Sun as well as “Changes in
Characteristics of a Gaussian Beam Weakly Diffracted by a Circular
Aperture” by P. Belland and J. Crenn, App. Opt. 21 (1982).
0.5
1.5
1.0
2.0
2.5
3.0
K

F
A
C
T
O
R
0
T(Db/Dt)
1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0
spot diameter = K ! l ! f-number
spot measured at 50% intensity level
spot measured at 13.5% intensity level
Figure 2.10 K factors as a function of truncation ratio
SPATIAL FILTERING
Laser light scattered from dust particles residing on optical
surfaces may produce interference patterns resembling holographic
zone planes. Such patterns can cause difficulties in interferometric
and holographic applications where they form a highly detailed,
contrasting, and confusing background that interferes with desired
information. Spatial filtering is a simple way of suppressing this
interference and maintaining a very smooth beam irradiance distri-
bution. The scattered light propagates in different directions from
the laser light and hence is spatially separated at a lens focal plane.
By centering a small aperture around the focal spot of the direct
beam, it is possible to block scattered light while allowing the direct
beam to pass unscathed. The result is a cone of light that has a very
smooth irradiance distribution and can be refocused to form a
collimated beam that is almost equally smooth (see figure 2.11).
As a compromise between ease of alignment and complete
spatial filtering, it is best that the aperture diameter be about two
times the 1/e
2
beam contour at the focus, or about 1.33 times the
99% throughput contour diameter.
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.9
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This formula is for uniform illumination, not a Gaussian intensity
profile. However, since it yields a larger value for spot size than actu-
ally occurs, its use will provide us with conservative lens choices.
Keep in mind that this formula is for spot diameter whereas the
Gaussian beam formulas are all stated in terms of spot radius.
Example 1: Obtain 8-mm spot at 80 m
Using the Melles Griot HeNe laser 05 LHR 151, produce a spot
8 mm in diameter at a distance of 80 m (see figure 2.12).
The product tables in Chapter 44, Helium Neon Lasers, gives the
output beam radius for the 25 LHR 151 as 0.4 mm (the product
The most important relationships that we will use in the process
of lens selection for Gaussian beam optical systems are as follows:
Focused spot radius
Beam propagation
w=
f
w
0
l
p
.
w(z) = w
z
w
w (optimum) =
z
z =
w
0
0
2
0
R
0
2
1
2
1 2
1 2
+
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
]
]
]
]
j
(
,
\
,
(
l
p
l
p
p
l
/
/
.
spot diameter (3rd- order spherical aberration) =
0.067 f
(f/#)
3
.
w (80 m) = 0.4 1
0.6328 10
= 40.3- mm beam radius
3
+
× ×
( )( )
j
(
,
,
\
,
(
(
,
¸
,
,
,
]
]
]
]
]
5
80 000
0 4
2
2
1 2
,
.
/
p
w (optimum) =
0.6328 10 80,000
= 4.0 mm.
0
3
1/2
× ×
j
(
,
\
,
(
4
p
overall length = f + f
1 2
magnification =
f
f
2
1
0.8 mm
45 mm 80 m
8 mm
01 LDK 001
01 LAO 059
Figure 2.12 Lens spacing adjusted empirically to achieve the desired spot size at 80 m
We can also utilize the equation for the approximate on-axis
spot size caused by spherical aberration for a plano-convex lens at
the infinite conjugate:
tables list beam diameter, so remember to divide by 2). Assuming a
collimated beam, we use the propagation formula to determine the
spot size at 80 m:
or 80.6-mm beam diameter. This is just about exactly a factor of 10
larger than we wanted. We can use the formula for w
0
(optimum)
to determine the smallest collimated beam diameter we could
achieve at a distance of 80 m:
This tells us that if we expand the beam by a factor of 10
(4.0 mm/0.4 mm), we can produce a collimated beam 8 mm in
diameter, which, if focused at the midpoint (40 m), will again be
8 mm in diameter at a distance of 80 m. This 10#expansion could
be accomplished most easily with one of the Melles Griot beam
expanders, such as the 09 LBX 003 or 09 LBM 013. However, if there
is a space constraint and a need to perform this task with a system
that is no longer than 50 mm, this can be accomplished by using
catalog components.
Figure 2.13 illustrates the two main types of beam expanders. The
Keplerian type consists of two positive lenses which are positioned
with their focal points nominally coincident. The Galilean type con-
sists of a negative diverging lens, followed by a positive collimating
lens, again positioned with their focal points nominally coincident.
In both cases, the overall length of the optical system is given by
Lens Selection
and the magnification is given by
and
where a negative sign, in the Galilean system, indicates an inverted
image (which is unimportant for laser beams). The Keplerian system,
(from 2.4)
(from 2.2)
(from 2.7)
Chpt. 2 Final 9/2/99 4:04 PM Page 2.10
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Thus, even a diffraction-limited focusing lens, with a 100-mm
focal length, will produce a 100-µm-diameter focal spot with an
Ideally, a plano-concave diverging lens is used for minimum
spherical aberration, but the shortest catalog focal length available is
410 mm. There is, however, a biconcave lens with a focal length of
45 mm (01 LDK 001). Even though this is not the optimum shape
lens for this application, the extremely short focal length is likely to have
negligible aberrations at this f-number. Ray tracing would confirm
this.
Now that we have selected a diverging lens with a focal length
of 45 mm, we need to choose a collimating lens with a focal length
of 50 mm. To determine whether a plano-convex lens is acceptable,
check the spherical aberration formula:
with its internal point of focus, allows one to utilize a spatial filter,
while the Galilean system has the advantage of shorter length for
a given magnification.
In order to determine necessary focal lengths for an expander,
we need to solve these two equations for the two unknowns.
In this case,
Using a negative value for the magnification will provide us
with a Galilean expander. This yields values of f
2
= 55.5 mm and
f
1
= 45.5 mm.
Figure 2.13 Two main types of beam expanders
Keplerian beam expander
f1 f2
Galilean beam expander
f1
f2
f + f = 50
and
f
f
= 10.
1 2
2
1
4
spot size resulting from spherical aberration
=
0.067 50
6.25
=14 m.
The spot diameter resulting from diffraction is
2w =
2 (0.6328 10 ) 50
4.0
= 5 m.
3
0
3
×
×
m
p
m
4
w =
0.6328 10 100
0.4
= 50 m.
3
× ×
4
p
m
45 mm 95 mm
01 LDK 001
01 LAO 059 01 LLP 017
Figure 2.14 Laser focusing system with long working distance
Clearly, a plano-convex lens will not be adequate. The next choice
would be an achromat, such as the 01 LAO 059. The data in the spot
size charts on page 1.26 indicates that this lens is probably diffraction
limited at this f-number. Our final system would therefore consist of
the 01 LDK 001 spaced about 45 mm from the 01 LAO 059, which
would have its flint element facing toward the laser.
Example 2: Obtain 10 mm spot at > 100 mm
Focus the output of an 05 LHR 151 to a spot diameter of 10 mm,
but with the constraint that the last surface of the focusing optics
is no closer than 100 mm to the focal point (see figure 2.14).
Using a 100-mm-focal-length lens, the Gaussian beam focusing
equation yields a spot radius of
Chpt. 2 Final 9/2/99 4:04 PM Page 2.11
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0.8-mm-diameter input beam. In order to achieve the spot size
wanted, the beam must first be expanded by a factor of 10 before
it is focused. The 10#expander described in the previous example
could perform the task, as could any of the standard 10#expanders
offered by Melles Griot.
For focusing, we now have an 8-mm-diameter beam going into
the 100-mm-focal-length lens, so we are operating at f/12.5. At this
f-number we can probably use a plano-convex lens, but it is a good
idea to check the spherical aberration to make sure.
spot size (spherical aberration) =
0.067 100
12.5
= 3 m.
3
×
m
1.1 mm
455 mm
06 GLC 002
06 GPA 004
06 LXP 009 01 LAO 277
Figure 2.15 Melles Griot diode laser components, showing how they may be used in relation to each other
The plano-convex lens, oriented with its convex surface toward
the beam expander, will provide diffraction-limited performance in
this case.
Although the effects of manufacturing tolerances should always
be taken into account when choosing a standard catalog lens, they
are not significant for the input lens of this beam expander because
the aperture is so small. With a diameter of 1 mm or less, virtually
any of the lenses in this catalog introduce only a fraction of a wave
of wavefront distortion as a result of manufacturing errors. How-
ever, with a larger beam, lens quality is a consideration. One of the
precision-grade lenses, in this case the 01 LLP017, should be used
for this precision application.
Example 3: Collimate a diode laser
Collect and collimate the output of a diode laser to a 25-mm-
diameter diffraction-limited beam. The output wavelength is 780nm
and has a full-angle divergence of 60°!20° (see figure 2.15).
The first step is to determine the numerical aperture needed to
collect all the light from a source with a 60-degree divergence angle.
Since numerical aperture is defined to be the sine of the half angle
of divergence,
NA = sin 30º = 0.5.
Stated in terms of f-number, 1/(2 NA), this is f/1. At this low
f-number we can immediately rule out virtually any simple lens or
achromat; even if a simple lens were available at this low
f-number, it would not provide the performance level required. The
best choice would be a highly corrected, multielement diode laser
collimating lens, such as the 06 GLC 002, which has a numerical
aperture of 0.5.
The 06 GLC 002 yields a collimated elliptical beam with dimen-
sions of 8 mm !2.7 mm. The smaller dimension of this beam must
be expanded to match the larger dimension; otherwise, it will have
a larger beam divergence because of diffraction. Since there is
approximately a 3:1 ratio in the two dimensions, we will use a 3#
anamorphic prism pair, 06 GPA 004, to accomplish the expansion.
This will now yield a collimated beam 8 mm in diameter.
The next step is to expand the beam by a factor of 3.125#in order
to get to the desired 25-mm beam diameter. Since no constraint has
been given on the length of our optical system, we’ll play it safe and
operate our beam expander at a minimum of f/10. This virtually
ensures diffraction-limited performance, even with singlets.
At f/10 and an 8-mm-diameter input beam, we would need a
focal length of 80 mm for the input lens of our collimator. Since we
are looking for diffraction-limited performance, our best choice
would be one of the precision diode laser singlets (06 LXP series).
Once again, we choose a high-precision lens because our beam has
a fairly large diameter and the effects of manufacturing tolerances
must be considered.
The closest focal length we have in this series of lenses is the
06 LXP 009 with a focal length of 110 mm. Operating at f/13.75,
we will have diffraction-limited performance, which can be veri-
fied by using the formula for spherical aberration. We now need a
collimating lens with a focal length of 3.125 !110 mm = 344 mm.
The best choice is probably the 01 LAO 277 because there is no
precision singlet lens with the necessary focal length. The achromat
is also manufactured to tighter tolerances.
The final system would then consist of the 06 GLC 002 mated
directly to the 06 GPA 004, followed by the 06 LXP 009 with its
curved surface facing toward the diode laser. The spacing between
the 06 LXP 009 and 06 GPA 004 is not critical. Finally, the
01 LAO277 would follow, spaced approximately 455 mm from the
singlet, with its flint surface facing toward the diode laser.
Since the standard coating supplied with the 01 LAO series
achromats does not perform very well at 780 nm, this lens should
be specified with a /076 coating, which is optimized for performance
at 780 nm.
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.12
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Transformation and Magnification by Simple Lenses
It is already clear from the previous discussion that Gaussian
beams transform in an unorthodox manner. Siegman uses matrix
transformations to treat the general problem of Gaussian beam
propagation with lenses and mirrors. A less rigorous, but in many
ways more insightful, approach to this problem has been developed
by Self [S.A. Self, “Focusing of Spherical Gaussian Beams,” Appl.
Opt. 22, no. 5 (March 1983): 658]. Self shows a method to model
transformations of a laser beam through simple optics, under
paraxial conditions, by calculating the Rayleigh range and beam
waist location following each individual optical element. These
parameters are calculated using a formula analogous to the
well-known standard lens formula. Melles Griot engineers have
found this method to be particularly useful. The main points are as
follows.
The standard lens equation can be written in dimensionless
form:
1
s + z s f)
+
1
s
=
1
f
or, in dimensionless form,
1
(s/f) + (z /f) /(s/f 1)
+
1
(s /f)
= 1.
R
2
R
2
/( 4
4


1
s/f
+
1
s /f
= 1.

For Gaussian beams, Self has derived an analogous formula by
assuming that the waist of the input beam represents the object,
and the waist of the output beam represents the image. The for-
mula is expressed in terms of the Rayleigh range of the input beam.
In the regular form,
In the far-field limit as z
R
→ 0, this reduces to the geometric
optics equation. A plot of (s/f) versus (s″/f) for various values of
(z
R
/f) is shown in figure 2.6. There are three distinct regions of
interest. For a positive thin lens, these correspond to real object
and real image, real object and virtual image, and virtual object
and real image.
The main differences between Gaussian beam optics and
geometric optics, highlighted in such a plot, can be summarized as
follows:
$ There is a maximum and minimum image distance for
Gaussian beams.
$ The maximum image distance occurs at s = f + z
R
, rather than
at s = f.
$ There is a common point in the Gaussian beam expression
at s/f = s″/f =1. For a simple positive lens, this is the point at
which the incident beam has a waist at the front focus and the
emerging beam has a waist at the rear focus.
(2.12)
(2.13)
(2.14)
Figure 2.6 Plot of the lens formula for Gaussian beams,
with normalized Rayleigh range of the input beam as
the parameter
0
1
2
4
5
41 0 1 2 3 4 5
3
0
0.25
1
2
parameter
z
R
f
( )
I
M
A
G
E

D
I
S
T
A
N
C
E
(
s
"
/
f
)
OBJECT DISTANCE (s/f)
0.50
42 43 44 45
41
42
43
44
$ A lens appears to have a shorter focal length as z
R
/f increases
from zero (i.e., there is a Gaussian focal shift).
Self recommends calculating z
R
, w
0
, and the position of w
0
for
each optical element in the system in turn so that the overall trans-
formation of the beam can be calculated. To carry this out, it is
also necessary to consider magnification: w
0
″/w
0
. The magnification
is given by
m =
w
w
=
1
1 (s/f) +(z /f)
0
0
R

4
[ ]
¦
¦
¦
¦
¦
¦
2
2
.
z = m z
R
2
R
″ .
The Rayleigh range of the output beam depends on m
2
, as can
be seen from the previous example, and is given by
All the above formulas are written in terms of the Rayleigh range
of the input beam. Unlike the geometric case, the formulas are not
symmetric with respect to input and output beam parameters. For
back tracing beams, it is useful to know the Gaussian beam formula
in terms of the Rayleigh range of the output beam:
1
s
+
1
s + z /(s f )
=
1
f
.
R
″ ″ ″
2
4
(2.15)
(2.16)
(2.17)
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.6
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M
2
AND THE LENS EQUATION
For real-world beams, the lens equation can be modified to
incorporate M
2
. Equation 2.12 becomes
1/[s+(z
R
/M
2
)
2
/(s-f)]+1/2″ = 1/f,
and equation 2.14 transforms to
1/[(s/f)+(z
R
/M
2
f)
2
/(s/f-1)]+1/(s″/f) = 1.
BEAM CONCENTRATION
The spot size and focal position of a Gaussian beam can be
determined from the previous equations. Two cases of particular
interest occur when s = 0 (the input waist is at the first principal
surface of the lens system) and s = f (the input waist is at the front
focal point of the optical system). For s = 0, we get
If a particularly small spot is desired, there is an advantage to
using a well-corrected high-numerical-aperture microscope objective
(see Chapter 29, Microscope Components, Spatial Filters and
Apertures) to concentrate the laser beam. The principal advantage
of the microscope objective over a simple lens is the diminished
level of spherical aberration. Although microscope objectives are
often used for this purpose, they are never designed for use at the
infinite conjugate ratio. Suitably optimized lens systems, which
Melles Griot can design and build on special request, are more
effective in beam-concentration tasks.
DEPTH OF FOCUS
Depth of focus (±Dz), that is, the range in image space over
which the focused spot diameter remains below an arbitrary limit,
can be derived from the formula
For the case of s = f, the equations for image distance and waist
size reduce to the following:
Substituting typical values into these equations yields nearly
identical results, and for most applications, the simpler, second set
of equations can be used.
In many applications, a primary aim is to focus the laser to a very
small spot, as shown in figure 2.7, by using either a single lens or a
combination of several lenses. Melles Griot has designed a series of
single lenses optimized for this specific purpose. For example, by
using a 05 LHR 151 laser and a focusing singlet, 01 LFS 033, the
formula should be modified as follows:
The factor 4/3 arises because of the careful balance of spherical
aberration and diffraction designed into the singlet. The ratio f/w
is proportional to lens f-number, but is not equal to it.
s =
f
1 + ( f/ w
w

=

f/ w
1

+

( f/ w
.
0
2
0
0
2

l p
l p
l p
)
)
/
2
2
1 2
[ ]
s = f
w

=

f/ w
0

l p
.
w(z)
4 f
3 w
=
4(632.8 10
)
= 4.70 10 mm
= 4.7 m.
6
3

×
×
l
p p
m
4
4
)( )
( )( .
7
3 0 4
w(z) = w 1 +
z
w
0
0
2
l
p
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
]
]
]
]
2
1 2 /
.
Dz
0.32 w
0
2
≈ ±
p
l
.
Dz =
0.32
6328 10
= 35.1 m.
3
7
±
×
×
±
p
m
( . ) 4 70 10
2 4
4
The first step in performing a depth-of-focus calculation is to set
the allowable degree of spot size variation. If we choose a typical
value of 5%, or w(z) = 1.05w
0
, and solve for z = Dz, the result is
By applying this result to the combination of the 05 LHR151
laser and laser-line focusing singlet 01 LFS 033, we find
Since the depth of focus is proportional to the square of focal
spot size, and focal spot size is directly related to f-number, the
depth of focus is proportional to the square of the f-number of the
focusing system.
(2.20)
(2.18)
(2.19)
(2.21)
(2.22)
and
and
w
Dbeam
1
e
2
2w0
Figure 2.7 Concentration of a laser beam by a laser-line
focusing singlet
Chpt. 2 Final 10/11/99 9:08 AM Page 2.7
The k function, plotted in figure 2.10, permits calculation of
on-axis spot diameter for any beam truncation ratio.
The optimal choice for truncation ratio depends on the relative
importance of spot size, peak spot intensity, and total power in the
spot as demonstrated in the table below. The total power loss in
the spot can be calculated by using
for a truncated Gaussian beam. A good compromise between power
loss and spot size is often a truncation ratio of one. When T = 2
(approximately uniform illumination), fractional power loss is 60%.
When T = 1, d
1/e
2 is just 8.0% larger than when T = 2, while fractional
power loss is down to 13.5%. Because of this large savings in power
with relatively little growth in the spot diameter, truncation ratios
of 0.7 to 1.0 are typically used. Ratios as low as 0.5 might be
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P = e
L
2(D /D
t b
4 )
2
(2.27)
d = 50% intensity point
and
d = 13.5% intensity point.
It is helpful to introduce the truncation ratio
T

=

D
D
FWHM
1/e
b
t
2
(2.24)
.1
.2
.3
.4
.5
.6
.7
.8
.9
1.0
I
N
T
E
N
S
I
T
Y
2.44 l (f-number)
13.5%
intensity
50%
intensity
Figure 2.8 Airy disc intensity distribution at the image
plane
Figure 2.9 Gaussian intensity distribution at the image
plane
.1
.2
.3
.4
.5
.6
.7
.8
.9
1.0
I
N
T
E
N
S
I
T
Y
1.83 l (f-number)
13.5%
intensity
50%
intensity
profile results as shown in figure 2.9. When the pupil illumination
is between these two extremes, a hybrid intensity profile results.
In the case of the Airy disc, the intensity falls to zero at the
point d
zero
= 2.44 !l !f/#, defining the diameter of the spot (see
figure 2.8). When the pupil illumination is not uniform, the image
spot intensity never falls to zero making it necessary to define the
diameter at some other point. This is commonly done for two
points:
K = +
0.7125
(T 0.2161)

0.6445
(T 0.2161)
FWHM
2.179 2.221
1 029 .
4
4
4
K

=

1.6449

+

0.6460
(T 0.2816) (T 0.2816)
1/e
1.821 1.891
2
4
4
4
0 5320 .
.
where D
b
is the Gaussian beam diameter measured at the 1/e
2
intensity point, and D
t
is the limiting aperture diameter of the lens.
If T = 2, which approximates uniform illumination, the image spot
intensity profile approaches that of the classic Airy disc. When
T = 1, the Gaussian profile is truncated at the 1/e
2
diameter, and the
spot profile is clearly a hybrid between an Airy pattern and a
Gaussian distribution. When T = 0.5, which approximates the case
for an untruncated Gaussian input beam, the spot intensity profile
approaches a Gaussian distribution.
Calculation of spot diameter for these or other truncation ratios
requires that K be evaluated. This is done by using the formulas
(2.25)
(2.26)
TRUNCATION
In a diffraction-limited lens, the diameter of the image spot is
where K is a constant dependent on truncation ratio and pupil
illumination, lis the wavelength of light, and f/# is the speed of the
lens at truncation. The intensity profile of the spot is strongly depen-
dent on the intensity profile of the radiation filling the entrance
pupil of the lens. For uniform pupil illumination, the image spot takes
on an Airy disc intensity profile as shown in figure 2.8. If the pupil
illumination is Gaussian in profile, an image spot of Gaussian
(2.23)
d = K f/# × × l
and
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.8
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Figure 2.11 Spatial filtering smoothes the irradiance
distribution
Modular and Multiaxis Spatial Filters
The Melles Griot range of spatial filters includes
a three-axis unit with precision micrometers
(07 SFM 001) and a compact five-axis version
(07 SFM 003). These devices feature an open design
that provides access to the beam as it passes
through the instrument. Details of these products
and standard microscope objectives and mounted
pinholes that work with these spatial filters are
described in Chapter 29, Microscope Components,
Spatial Filters, and Apertures.
For those who wish to fabricate their own spatial
filters, unmounted pinholes can also be found in
Chapter 29, Microscope Components, Spatial Filters,
and Apertures. The precision individual pinholes are
for general-purpose spatial-filtering tasks. The high-
energy laser precision pinholes are constructed
specifically to withstand irradiation from high-energy
lasers.
APPLICATION NOTE
employed when laser power must be conserved. However, this low
value often wastes too much of the available clear aperture of the
lens.
Spot Diameters and Fractional Power Loss
for Three Values of Truncation
Truncation Ratio d
FWHM
d
1/e
2 d
zero
P
L
(%)
Infinity
2.0
1.0
0.5
1.03
1.05
1.13
1.54
1.64
1.69
1.83
2.51
2.44



100
60
13.5
0.03
The mathematics of the effects of truncation on a real-world
laser beam are beyond the scope of this chapter. Suffice it to say that
truncation, in general, increases the M
2
factor of the beam. For an
in-depth treatment of this problem, please refer to the
aforementioned paper by Haiyin Sun as well as “Changes in
Characteristics of a Gaussian Beam Weakly Diffracted by a Circular
Aperture” by P. Belland and J. Crenn, App. Opt. 21 (1982).
0.5
1.5
1.0
2.0
2.5
3.0
K

F
A
C
T
O
R
0
T(Db/Dt)
1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0
spot diameter = K ! l ! f-number
spot measured at 50% intensity level
spot measured at 13.5% intensity level
Figure 2.10 K factors as a function of truncation ratio
SPATIAL FILTERING
Laser light scattered from dust particles residing on optical
surfaces may produce interference patterns resembling holographic
zone planes. Such patterns can cause difficulties in interferometric
and holographic applications where they form a highly detailed,
contrasting, and confusing background that interferes with desired
information. Spatial filtering is a simple way of suppressing this
interference and maintaining a very smooth beam irradiance distri-
bution. The scattered light propagates in different directions from
the laser light and hence is spatially separated at a lens focal plane.
By centering a small aperture around the focal spot of the direct
beam, it is possible to block scattered light while allowing the direct
beam to pass unscathed. The result is a cone of light that has a very
smooth irradiance distribution and can be refocused to form a
collimated beam that is almost equally smooth (see figure 2.11).
As a compromise between ease of alignment and complete
spatial filtering, it is best that the aperture diameter be about two
times the 1/e
2
beam contour at the focus, or about 1.33 times the
99% throughput contour diameter.
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.9
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This formula is for uniform illumination, not a Gaussian intensity
profile. However, since it yields a larger value for spot size than actu-
ally occurs, its use will provide us with conservative lens choices.
Keep in mind that this formula is for spot diameter whereas the
Gaussian beam formulas are all stated in terms of spot radius.
Example 1: Obtain 8-mm spot at 80 m
Using the Melles Griot HeNe laser 05 LHR 151, produce a spot
8 mm in diameter at a distance of 80 m (see figure 2.12).
The product tables in Chapter 44, Helium Neon Lasers, gives the
output beam radius for the 25 LHR 151 as 0.4 mm (the product
The most important relationships that we will use in the process
of lens selection for Gaussian beam optical systems are as follows:
Focused spot radius
Beam propagation
w=
f
w
0
l
p
.
w(z) = w
z
w
w (optimum) =
z
z =
w
0
0
2
0
R
0
2
1
2
1 2
1 2
+
j
(
,
\
,
(
,
¸
,
,
]
]
]
]
j
(
,
\
,
(
l
p
l
p
p
l
/
/
.
spot diameter (3rd- order spherical aberration) =
0.067 f
(f/#)
3
.
w (80 m) = 0.4 1
0.6328 10
= 40.3- mm beam radius
3
+
× ×
( )( )
j
(
,
,
\
,
(
(
,
¸
,
,
,
]
]
]
]
]
5
80 000
0 4
2
2
1 2
,
.
/
p
w (optimum) =
0.6328 10 80,000
= 4.0 mm.
0
3
1/2
× ×
j
(
,
\
,
(
4
p
overall length = f + f
1 2
magnification =
f
f
2
1
0.8 mm
45 mm 80 m
8 mm
01 LDK 001
01 LAO 059
Figure 2.12 Lens spacing adjusted empirically to achieve the desired spot size at 80 m
We can also utilize the equation for the approximate on-axis
spot size caused by spherical aberration for a plano-convex lens at
the infinite conjugate:
tables list beam diameter, so remember to divide by 2). Assuming a
collimated beam, we use the propagation formula to determine the
spot size at 80 m:
or 80.6-mm beam diameter. This is just about exactly a factor of 10
larger than we wanted. We can use the formula for w
0
(optimum)
to determine the smallest collimated beam diameter we could
achieve at a distance of 80 m:
This tells us that if we expand the beam by a factor of 10
(4.0 mm/0.4 mm), we can produce a collimated beam 8 mm in
diameter, which, if focused at the midpoint (40 m), will again be
8 mm in diameter at a distance of 80 m. This 10#expansion could
be accomplished most easily with one of the Melles Griot beam
expanders, such as the 09 LBX 003 or 09 LBM 013. However, if there
is a space constraint and a need to perform this task with a system
that is no longer than 50 mm, this can be accomplished by using
catalog components.
Figure 2.13 illustrates the two main types of beam expanders. The
Keplerian type consists of two positive lenses which are positioned
with their focal points nominally coincident. The Galilean type con-
sists of a negative diverging lens, followed by a positive collimating
lens, again positioned with their focal points nominally coincident.
In both cases, the overall length of the optical system is given by
Lens Selection
and the magnification is given by
and
where a negative sign, in the Galilean system, indicates an inverted
image (which is unimportant for laser beams). The Keplerian system,
(from 2.4)
(from 2.2)
(from 2.7)
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Thus, even a diffraction-limited focusing lens, with a 100-mm
focal length, will produce a 100-µm-diameter focal spot with an
Ideally, a plano-concave diverging lens is used for minimum
spherical aberration, but the shortest catalog focal length available is
410 mm. There is, however, a biconcave lens with a focal length of
45 mm (01 LDK 001). Even though this is not the optimum shape
lens for this application, the extremely short focal length is likely to have
negligible aberrations at this f-number. Ray tracing would confirm
this.
Now that we have selected a diverging lens with a focal length
of 45 mm, we need to choose a collimating lens with a focal length
of 50 mm. To determine whether a plano-convex lens is acceptable,
check the spherical aberration formula:
with its internal point of focus, allows one to utilize a spatial filter,
while the Galilean system has the advantage of shorter length for
a given magnification.
In order to determine necessary focal lengths for an expander,
we need to solve these two equations for the two unknowns.
In this case,
Using a negative value for the magnification will provide us
with a Galilean expander. This yields values of f
2
= 55.5 mm and
f
1
= 45.5 mm.
Figure 2.13 Two main types of beam expanders
Keplerian beam expander
f1 f2
Galilean beam expander
f1
f2
f + f = 50
and
f
f
= 10.
1 2
2
1
4
spot size resulting from spherical aberration
=
0.067 50
6.25
=14 m.
The spot diameter resulting from diffraction is
2w =
2 (0.6328 10 ) 50
4.0
= 5 m.
3
0
3
×
×
m
p
m
4
w =
0.6328 10 100
0.4
= 50 m.
3
× ×
4
p
m
45 mm 95 mm
01 LDK 001
01 LAO 059 01 LLP 017
Figure 2.14 Laser focusing system with long working distance
Clearly, a plano-convex lens will not be adequate. The next choice
would be an achromat, such as the 01 LAO 059. The data in the spot
size charts on page 1.26 indicates that this lens is probably diffraction
limited at this f-number. Our final system would therefore consist of
the 01 LDK 001 spaced about 45 mm from the 01 LAO 059, which
would have its flint element facing toward the laser.
Example 2: Obtain 10 mm spot at > 100 mm
Focus the output of an 05 LHR 151 to a spot diameter of 10 mm,
but with the constraint that the last surface of the focusing optics
is no closer than 100 mm to the focal point (see figure 2.14).
Using a 100-mm-focal-length lens, the Gaussian beam focusing
equation yields a spot radius of
Chpt. 2 Final 9/2/99 4:04 PM Page 2.11
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0.8-mm-diameter input beam. In order to achieve the spot size
wanted, the beam must first be expanded by a factor of 10 before
it is focused. The 10#expander described in the previous example
could perform the task, as could any of the standard 10#expanders
offered by Melles Griot.
For focusing, we now have an 8-mm-diameter beam going into
the 100-mm-focal-length lens, so we are operating at f/12.5. At this
f-number we can probably use a plano-convex lens, but it is a good
idea to check the spherical aberration to make sure.
spot size (spherical aberration) =
0.067 100
12.5
= 3 m.
3
×
m
1.1 mm
455 mm
06 GLC 002
06 GPA 004
06 LXP 009 01 LAO 277
Figure 2.15 Melles Griot diode laser components, showing how they may be used in relation to each other
The plano-convex lens, oriented with its convex surface toward
the beam expander, will provide diffraction-limited performance in
this case.
Although the effects of manufacturing tolerances should always
be taken into account when choosing a standard catalog lens, they
are not significant for the input lens of this beam expander because
the aperture is so small. With a diameter of 1 mm or less, virtually
any of the lenses in this catalog introduce only a fraction of a wave
of wavefront distortion as a result of manufacturing errors. How-
ever, with a larger beam, lens quality is a consideration. One of the
precision-grade lenses, in this case the 01 LLP017, should be used
for this precision application.
Example 3: Collimate a diode laser
Collect and collimate the output of a diode laser to a 25-mm-
diameter diffraction-limited beam. The output wavelength is 780nm
and has a full-angle divergence of 60°!20° (see figure 2.15).
The first step is to determine the numerical aperture needed to
collect all the light from a source with a 60-degree divergence angle.
Since numerical aperture is defined to be the sine of the half angle
of divergence,
NA = sin 30º = 0.5.
Stated in terms of f-number, 1/(2 NA), this is f/1. At this low
f-number we can immediately rule out virtually any simple lens or
achromat; even if a simple lens were available at this low
f-number, it would not provide the performance level required. The
best choice would be a highly corrected, multielement diode laser
collimating lens, such as the 06 GLC 002, which has a numerical
aperture of 0.5.
The 06 GLC 002 yields a collimated elliptical beam with dimen-
sions of 8 mm !2.7 mm. The smaller dimension of this beam must
be expanded to match the larger dimension; otherwise, it will have
a larger beam divergence because of diffraction. Since there is
approximately a 3:1 ratio in the two dimensions, we will use a 3#
anamorphic prism pair, 06 GPA 004, to accomplish the expansion.
This will now yield a collimated beam 8 mm in diameter.
The next step is to expand the beam by a factor of 3.125#in order
to get to the desired 25-mm beam diameter. Since no constraint has
been given on the length of our optical system, we’ll play it safe and
operate our beam expander at a minimum of f/10. This virtually
ensures diffraction-limited performance, even with singlets.
At f/10 and an 8-mm-diameter input beam, we would need a
focal length of 80 mm for the input lens of our collimator. Since we
are looking for diffraction-limited performance, our best choice
would be one of the precision diode laser singlets (06 LXP series).
Once again, we choose a high-precision lens because our beam has
a fairly large diameter and the effects of manufacturing tolerances
must be considered.
The closest focal length we have in this series of lenses is the
06 LXP 009 with a focal length of 110 mm. Operating at f/13.75,
we will have diffraction-limited performance, which can be veri-
fied by using the formula for spherical aberration. We now need a
collimating lens with a focal length of 3.125 !110 mm = 344 mm.
The best choice is probably the 01 LAO 277 because there is no
precision singlet lens with the necessary focal length. The achromat
is also manufactured to tighter tolerances.
The final system would then consist of the 06 GLC 002 mated
directly to the 06 GPA 004, followed by the 06 LXP 009 with its
curved surface facing toward the diode laser. The spacing between
the 06 LXP 009 and 06 GPA 004 is not critical. Finally, the
01 LAO277 would follow, spaced approximately 455 mm from the
singlet, with its flint surface facing toward the diode laser.
Since the standard coating supplied with the 01 LAO series
achromats does not perform very well at 780 nm, this lens should
be specified with a /076 coating, which is optimized for performance
at 780 nm.
Chpt. 2 Final 7/30/99 4:59 PM Page 2.12

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