Physical Optics Modeling with FRED

An Advanced FRED Tutorial

Physical optics modeling requires propagating optical wave fields from a specific radiometric source through complex systems of apertures and reflective or refractive optical components, or even complete instruments or devices, usually to a focal plane or sensor. The model must accurately include the interference and diffraction effects allowed by the polarization and coherence characteristics of both the initial optical wave field and the components and media through which it passes.

Photon Engineering’s tutorial on Physical Optics Modeling is an intensive 3-day instruction covering wave propagation, polarization, interference, diffraction and partial coherence as they relate to applications in optical engineering. This short course is taught with an emphasis on the complex ray-tracing of Gaussian beams implemented in FRED although many of the concepts and techniques are generic to other similar software packages.

Download the registration form (Tucson)
Contact Laser 2000 (Germany)

Topics covered in this tutorial

  • Introduction
    • Hierarchy of Optical Theories
    • Description of Physical Optics
  • Mathematical Description of Optical Wave Fields
    • Maxwell’s Equations
    • Poynting Vector and Irradiance
    • Plane Waves / Spherical Waves
  • Fundamentals of Radiometry
  • The Characteristics of Gaussian Beams
    • Gaussian Spherical Wave Characteristics
    • Far-field Divergence and Beam Width
    • Gaussian Beam Focusing Behavior
  • Propagation of Gaussian beams by Complex Raytracing
    • The ABCD Law of Gaussian Beam Propagation
    • Rules of Complex Ray-tracing
    • Accuracy of Complex Ray-tracing (FRED)
    • Truncation of a Gaussian Beam (FRED)
  • EM Waves as a Superposition of Gaussian Beams
    • Diffraction Calculations by Complex Ray-tracing
    • Rules for Decomposition into Gausian Beamlets
    • Modeling Classical Interference with FRED
    • Modeling Fraunhofer Diffraction with FRED
    • Diffraction from Truncated Laser Beams (FRED)
    • Advantages & Limitations of Complex Raytracing
  • Modeling Physical Optics Phenomena with FRED
    • Fresnel Diff. Patterns from Apertures
    • Propagation of Laser Diode Beam
    • Modeling Bessel (non-diffracting) Beams
    • Pulse Propagation
    • Spatial Filtering
    • Optical Fiber Coupling Efficiency
    • Modeling Speckle Effects
    • Propagation thru Turbulence
    • Modeling Polarization Effects with FRED
    • Modeling Partial Coherence Effects with FRED
  • Modeling Advanced Optical Systems with FRED
    • Refracting Imaging Systems
    • Reflecting Imaging Systems (wo/w scatter)
    • Modeling Interferometers with FRED
      • Michelson Interferometer
      • Fabry-Perot Interferometer
      • Mach-Zehnder Interferometer
      • Fizeau Interferometer
      • Shearing Interferometer
      • Point Diffraction Interferometer


Attendees should have a rudimentary knowledge of geometrical and physical optics and must be knowledgeable users of FRED. Attendees must also have knowledge of the BASIC programming language or general familiarity with computer programming prior to attending. The course begins with basic concepts and develops the relevant language and theory of physical optics followed by numerous practical examples demonstrated in FRED.