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On the accuracy of the stationary phase method


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Optica Applicata, Vol. X V , No. 4, 1985

On the accuracy of the stationary phase method

Gr a ż y n a Mu l a k

Institute o f Physics, Technical University o f W roclaw , W ybrzeże W yspiańskiego 27, 50-370 W roclaw , Poland.

The results o f calculations o f the amplitude o f the wave diffracted at a straight edge, obtained from Van Kampen formulae, were compared with those obtained b y using an approximation of Fresnel’ s integrals. The regions, where the first term o f an asym ptotic expansion describing the diffraction wave is satisfactory, were pointed. Some remarks concerning the influence o f further terms of asym ptotic expansion on K irch hoff’ s integral evaluation were made.

1. Introduction

Many problems of optics reduce to finding Kirchhoff’s integral over any surface, e.g., that of the lighting object, an exit pupil of an optical system, a hole in black screen or plane of the hologram. In the case, when the integration surface is large, this problem may, among others, be solved by using the asymptotic approach.

The substantial advantage arising from using this method is that Kirch­ hoff’s integral can be evaluated by virtue of the disturbations originating from the several active points (critical points).

It seemed advisible to known, which are the quantitative relations between the asymptotic approximation and other results. To this end we have chosen Fresnel’s diffraction at an infinite straight edge because of different reasons. One of them is that the problem is well described by Fresnel’s integrals and the obtained results are in good agreement with the experimental data [1]. The second reason is that in our case, unlike in other forms of apertures, there is only one, isolated critical point of the second kind. This fact creates good conditions for analysis.

2. Method o f Fresnel’ s integrals

The complex amplitude of the disturbance at observation point P is described by the formula [1]



= B ( C + iS)


where iA cxp[»fc(r' + *')] B - - cos 5 , A r' + s' (la) c = 6 j r i + «*(«,)] - [ | + ^ ( ™ ) ] } > (lb) s =


+ * ( « > ) ] + [ | + ^ ( « ) ] } » (lc) A 6 = / 1 1 \ (Id)

2( - +vP8,s

<g(w) and Sf(w) are Fresnel’s integrals

<g(w) = j cos 1 t2| dx ,

0 ' '



y {w ) =


sin r2j dr,

where for diffraction at a straight edge

” , = i / , ! ( v + y ) z “ s 's’ (3)

A -t h e wavelength. All the remaining denotations are shown in Fig. 1. The source point P 0 and the observation point P are located in (x, z) plane.


On the accuracy o f the stationary phase method


The basic diffraction integral (1) may be rewritten in the form

Aexp[ifc(r' + s')] (1 +% + £?) — i{<6 — Sf)

For the sufficiently great values of w both integrals (2) may be approximated

by [2]

In this approximation the positions of extrema are preserved. The errors of the approximation calculated with respect to the data given in 4-digit tables [2] are specified in Table 1.

T a b l e 1 w r€(w ) exact., after [2] (w) approx., according to (5) Error [% ] 1 0.7799 0.8183 5 2 0.4883 0.5000 2.5 2.6 0.3889 0.3862 < 1 3 0.6057 0.6061 < 1 3.2 0.4663 0.4634 < 0.5 4.2 0.5417 0.5407 < 0.2 6 0.4995 0.5000 < 0.2 6.2 0.4676 0.4673 < 0.1 7.2 0.4887 0.4889 < 0.1 For w tending to oo

UP-> UPoo ^exp [*&(*·'+ « ') ] r' + S'

Let us introduce

ôp -- UP - U P„


which will be convenient for further analysis. In our case

l l + V + & ) - i ( V - S r )

And for great values of w









The amplitude and the phase are: I^fI — /— > V2nw n aP = — n H---w2 F 4 2 respectively. (9a) (9b)

3. Method o f the stationary phase

The complex amplitude in P may be presented as sum

Up = U f + U f , (10)

where Up) - disturbance predicted by geometrical optics, called by Rubino- wicz the geometric-optics wave [3],

U(f) - disturbance representing the diffraction effects, called by Rubi- nowicz the diffraction wave [3].

The stationary phase is appropriate for great values of wave number k.

According to Van Kampen formulae [4] and taking into account only the first term of U(p\ for sufficiently great k we have


exp[ifc(r' + s')]

r' + s' + « 1 0 exp (ika00). (



In our case for a critical point of the second kind (point N in Fig. 1) we have

«00 = “l” ^o>

«01 = 9 >

_ iA r's0 + s'r0

00 " _ 4tt (r0s0)2 e2 = e,(n/4).

The simplifying supposition cos 5 = 1 was done. To obtain (12) the origin of the system of coordinates must be located at N.


On the accuracy o f the stationary phase method 343

For 1c tending to oo there remains the geometric-optics wave only

TT rr exp [»*(*·' + «')] - w *— Analogically as in (7), using

Up — UPoo

ôn = Ü;P o o we obtain ôn =


-n r' + s' boo &l«02i A ®10

After substituting (12) into (11) we get

(13) (14> (15). I^cl = 2V2 -D , 71W where D |V + » ^ 8/1 W + s'r, ' ro + s J {r's'ros0)1/2 and (15a> ac = y J i + fc^o + S o ) - ^ ' + » ') ] · 4 (15b)

4. Discussion

As it follows from the comparison of formulae for 6 (Eqs. (9) and (15)), the full agreement of 6F and dc takes place when geometrical factor _D in Eq. (15a) equals 2. This factor depends upon the ratios (r1 IX) and (s' /X) exclusively and its greatest value 2 is reached when X = 0. But X = 0 implies w = 0. In this region, because of small value of w, the comparison of formulae (9) and (15a) cannot be made. However, already for w = 1 (Tab. 1) the comparison may be done. The above considerations are illustrated in Fig. 2. For the given position of source (r'IX) = 1 and for various positions of the observation point represent­ ed by a pencil of straight lines (s'/X) — const, there were marked the corres­ ponding values of D. Assuming that (A/X) = 5 x l 0 -s we have drown family of lines w = const (isophotes).

As seen from this figure, the stationary phase method gives the value of amplitude, predicted by geometrical optics, quicker (nearer the shadow bounda­ ry) than the Fresnel’s integrals method. An agreement between aF and aQ


occurs in the regions, where the following approximation can be made: 1 X2 r· “ ’' + Ï V . 1 , " " 8 + 2 ^ · ' (16) Then n ^[(^o+^o)- ( r '+ «')] and ac ^ a F ·


This approximation holds when the first from the neglected terms of the bino­ mial expansion satisfies the conditions

fc — + — \ < 27i, (17)

8 \r'3 s'3J y '

it is, when the assumption of Fresnel diffraction is fulfilled. If we assume that this term is equal to 2n/100, then X , D, and w for the given positions r' and s'

take the values presented in Table 2. It can be seen from this table that the ratio

T a b l e 2 r ' [cm ] s' [cm] X [cm ] w D 1 1 3.8 x 1 0 -2 10.6 1.9979 1 2 4.3 x 1 0 -2 10.6 1.9986 1 0.5 2.5 x 1 0 -2 8.7 1.9982 1 = 5 x 10-5 cm 2 2 6.3 x 1 0 -2 12.6 1.9985 0.5 0.5 2.4 x 1 0 -“ 9.6 1.9965


On the accuracy o f the stationary phase method 345

(l&yl/l'M) = -®/2 differs from 1 by about 1%0. Thus, in the region of Fresnel approximations both the descriptions are in perfect agreement.

The question arises, what is the contribution of further terms of expansions describing the effect of the critical points on the diffraction wave. For the critical points of first kind (point M in Fig. 1) we have [4]


ne{kaoo , ib2n : ib02

~T ®lfi2 I ¿>00 + ~ 7--- l·

---V1^20^02! L 2kai0 2 ka02 (18)

where the first term describes the geometric-optics wave, and the subsequent ones are the contributions to the diffraction wave like those

uN(P) 1/ 71 is2 [ 1 ib°2 1 1

r k\a02\ aio 1uoo ika10


2 ka02 ‘ ' J (19) originating from the second kind critical point N on the diffracting edge. In our case the estimation of the ratios of the second and third terms to the first term in expressions (18) and (19) yields:

— for M point bjp _ ¿>Q3 3 r 2 + s'2 2 fc# 2 0 ^ 0 0 2ifc<lo2&oO T 8 (t - f - S ) — for N point feio =


rVggo + s , ggr0 + 2 ( r , ^ + 8 , r;) ka10b00 k r0So(r0+So)(r's0 + «V 0)


= _ _i_



s'soro + 2 (r'sl

+ ÿ,»o)

2ka02b00 2k r0s0(r0 + s0)(r's0 + s'r0)




Putting r' = s' = a, r0 — s0 — b, we get jointly:

— for M point 3 X 4?r a — for N point (22)

A 1

8 n b

As seen from (22), the substantial influence of further terms of UM(P)

will be marked in the vicinity of the aperture plane, while those of UN(P) will be seen in the nearest vicinity of the diffracting edge.


Figure 3 shows the comparison of the results of both the methods in the vicinity of the shadow boundary. The intensities were calculated from E qs. (11) and (4). In the case of small values of w we substitute in Eq. (4) quickly

convergent series [1]

M - w [ i T i ( I “ *) - 3T7 (


*” ) + · ·:] ·

The discontinuity introduced by the division of the disturbation into U{a) and t7(d) is visible in this Figure. In the shadow region Z7(ff) disappears and TJ(d) at

w = 0 is also discontinuous. In this case the singularity caused by coincidence of critical points of the first and the second kinds requires a special treatment.

4 !9

5. Conclusions

The results of Fresnel approximations, according to [1], are in agreement with the experimental data. While deriving Fresnel’s formulae it has been assumed that the sizes of the domain of integration are small with respect to the distances r' and s' [4, 5]. This agreement is strange considering that the assumptions mentioned above are not fully satisfied in the case of straight edge.


O n the accuracy o f the stationary phase method 347

In the stationary phase method such assumptions are not required. The requirement (17) is in general not necessary [5]. For the distances violating (17) and for great values of k, the oscillations of the quadratic phase factor will he so rapid, that the contribution to the Kirchhoff’s integral arise only from the critical points [4, 5], where the rate of changes of phase is minimum.

It is obvious that the Fresnel’s approximation does not hold in the near field region for a strong angular divergence of beams and in the intermediate region (i.e., between the near and far fields). Both the descriptions give the oscillations of intensity about the value predicted by the geometrical optics. I t seems, however, that the description of the field in the intermediate region obtained by the stationary phase method may be closer to reality than the Fresnel’s one. This supposition may be best verified by experiment.

The above results permit us to examine the holographic imaging by means of the critical point methods. Under limit resolution conditions, when all the sources taking part in the imaging area at distances comparable with the holo­ gram size, the region of the shadow will be much more complex and a detailed information about the description of the field formed by each source is required. .

R e fe re n ce s

[1] Born M., Wo lf E., Principles o f Optics, Pergamon Press, New Y ork 1964.

[2] An t o n ie w ic z J., Function Tables fo r Engineers (in Polish), P W N , W arszawa 1969. [3 ] Ru b in o w ic zW ., K irchhoff’s Diffraction Theory and Its Interpretation on Basis o f Young’s

Viewpoint (in Polish), Osssolineum, W roclaw 1972.

[4] Van Ka m pe n N. G., Physica 14 (1949), 575-589.

[5] Go o d m a n J. W ., Introduction to Fourier Optics, McGraw-Hill B ook Co., N ew Y ork 1968.

Deceived December 1, 1984 in revised form March 18, 1985

К вопросу точности м етода стационарной фазы Былисравнены результаты вычислений амплитуды волны, дифрагированной на прямолинейном крае, полученных по формулам Ван Кампена и с применением интегралов Френеля. Области, где первые члены асимптотических развитий удовлетворенно описывают волну дифракции, были показаны. Были произведены некоторые примечания относительно влияния высших членов аси­ мптотических развитий на оценку интеграла Кирхгофа.


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