In his classic text: “Principles of Optics,” written with Nobel laureate Max Born, Emil Wolf laid the foundations of contemporary physical optics. By frequency of citation, that book is one of the three most popular physics books. In the first edition, published in 1959, Emil Wolf described the almost unknown concept of spatial coherence before lasers were introduced. He was also the first to document in a book a new concept: Gabor’s holography. The basic idea of publishing a modern book on physical optics came from Max Born, but the fact that the closely related concepts of spatial coherence and holography appeared so early in textbook form had a formidable impact on science and physical optics engineering. At present we can identify at least 250 companies and corporate divisions in the English language zone alone (U.S.A., Great Britain, Australia, and Canada), the origins of which are easily traced to modern physical optics in general, and to the book Principles of Optics in particular.Moreover, several multibillion dollar industries can also be traced to this legacy, including liquid crystal and LED displays and screens, screens for direct-projection and rear-projection TV, and many other advanced illumination systems, sensors, and nonimaging optical devices.
This SPIE Press book pays tribute to Emil Wolf (see Fig. 1) for his pioneering contributions to the science and engineering of physical optics. His close friend, collaborator, and well-known authority on diffractive optics, Professor Brian Thompson, refers to Alexander Pope’s “An Essay onMan” in characterizing Emil Wolf ’s contributions. With the ever growing impact of Prof. Wolf ’s fundamental ideas on the nature of light, Pope’s famous epitaph for Newton comes to mind:
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in Night:
God said, Let NEWTON be! And all was Light.
Even though his position that spatial coherence is critical to physical optics was to some degree opposed by Max Born, it has, over the years, become a very powerful concept in many areas of physical optics, some of which are presented herein. These include diffraction optics, statistical optics, polarization of light, electromagnetic theory of optical coherence, microscopic theory of spatial coherence, physical radiometry (radiance), physical optics modeling of millimeter wave antennas, coherent optical microscopy, color vision, andWolf ’s wavelength shift. Professor Jan Peˇrina reviews optics in the Czech Republic (then Czechloslovakia, where Prof. Wolf was born). Others address coherence-based light scattering, new aspects of the Sommerfeld half-plane problem as well as Young’s experiment, comparison between Doppler and Wolf ’s shifts, phase and information, wave-optical engineering, and holography and the inverse and scattering problems. Also discussed here are controversial topics in contemporary optics, total-internal-reflection tomography, coherence-mode analysis, nano-optics, special problems in coherence, and Newton-Goethe controversy.
All the chapters of this book are presented by major experts in the field (see Fig. 2), many of them closely connected to Emil Wolf ’s University of Rochester School of Optics. The ideas they express are their own, subject only to peer review. The papers are part science and part memoir, but all are suffused with love and admiration of Emil Wolf, and for his contributions to science and engineering.
This book is based on the authors’ presentations at SPIE Conference AM100: Tribute to EmilWolf: Engineering Legacy of PhysicalOptics, T.P. Jannson, Chair, at the SPIE Annual Meeting in August 2003 in San Diego, California. Most chapters in this book are extended versions of those conference presentations.
Tomasz P. Jannson