Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Physics

Content Description

1 online resource (xiv, 103 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jonathan Petruccelli

Committee Members

Carolyn MacDonald, Alexander Khmaladze, Matthew Szydagis, Karin Reinhold


Quantum theory, Optics

Subject Categories



In designing an optical setup for an experiment, one usually turns to simulations first in order to model the propagation of light through the proposed system. This way, the experimenter can determine if the system is operating as intended. In order for these simulations to be useful, they need to properly describe the propagation of light. In order to simplify calculations, most contemporary software makes assumptions on the nature of the light being propagated. Specifically, simulations typically consider optical fields that are beam-like (i.e., most of the rays comprising the field deviate only slightly in angle from the beam's primary axis). In addition, the field is assumed to be either highly coherent (random fluctuations in the field are negligible and all points in the field can fully interfere which simplifies wave-optics simulations) or highly incoherent (random fluctuations in the field are strong enough that interference effects are negligible leading to efficient ray-optical simulations). However, there are often circumstances where the rays comprising the optical field fail to obey this small-angle approximation, and are described rather as being non-paraxial. Most realistic sources of light tend to be partially coherent, containing some random fluctuations but still showing interference effects. In this work, I will discuss a method introduced called the angle-impact Wigner function (AIWF) that extends the ray description of light to partially coherent, partially polarized, non-paraxial fields. This method allows for efficient computation of various field quantities of interest at any point within the region of interest. I will demonstrate this through calculations of fields of varying degrees of coherence and polarization in comparison to other, more traditional methods. This method will also be applied to the case of fields propagating past planar dielectric interfaces, as a first step toward modeling optical fields. The AIWF incorporates wave-optical integral methods to assign weights to rays. These rays are propagated using the computationally simple methods of geometrical optics. In prior work, however, the complexity of computing the weights and appropriately assigning them to rays proved a bottleneck. In this work, I will describe a way of implementing the AIWF-based propagation using the so-called plenoptic field data structure from computational photography allowing for efficient storage of the field quantities and allows for a more efficient implementation.

Included in

Optics Commons