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3.1 Introduction

In this section we formulate par-axial geometric optics in terms of 2 2 matrices1 and associated rays. These rays can be traced through the optical system by matrix-vector multiplication.

This scheme allows complex, multi-element, optical systems to be analysed and simplified

is a simple algorithmic scheme which is easily calculated, either analytically or numerically.

This scheme is then used to identify the main optical reference planes, known as the principal planes, and the effective focal length. The properties of these planes allow us to represent

complex optical system by their equivalent simple lenses. Finally we consider the limitations

of this system and outline the next level of optical analysis, being full geometric ray tracing.

In this scheme we represent an optical ray in plane P, a distance z along the optical axis by a

two component vector,

r

r=

where r is the height from the optical axis, and angle made with the perpendicular to the plane

P as shown in figure 1.

Ray

r

0

Optical Axis

Figure 1: Vector notation for an optical ray of height r, angle in plane a distance z along the

optical axis.

We then describe the propagation of this ray by a 2 2 matrix

a b

M=

c d

such that the height and angle of the new ray is given by

r1

a

r1 = M r0

=

1

c

b

d

r0

0

We then define a Matrix Operator M for each optical component2 we can trace rays through the

system by a series of matrix multiplies.

1 This formulation is different than that given in Hecht who uses the transpose, the final results are however the

same.

2 Each refractive index interface and distance between them.

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If we have N components with propagation matrices Mi for i = 1, . . . , N, then for an initial ray

of r0 the final ray rN is given by a series of pre-multiplies, giving,

rN = MN MN1 . . . M2 M1 r0

which we can then write as

rN = Ms r0

Ms = MN MN1 . . . M2 M1

where

series of 2 2 matrix multiplies. This reduces to geometrical optical properties of a potentially

very complex optical system to a simple 2 2 matrix. The power of this formulation become

clearer when we start to define the actual matrices.

3.2.1 Propagation between Two Planes

Consider a ray r0 in plane P0 propagating a distance d to a plane P1 as shown in figure 2. In

plane P1 we have, assuming small angles so that tan 0 0 , giving,

r 1 = r 0 + d 0

and 1 = 0

r1 = M r0

1

M=

0

where

d

1

so giving us the matrix for propagation a distance d along the optical axis.

Note: This does not depend on the refractive index of the media it is propagating through.

r1

r0

P0

Ray

P1

Optical Axis

Consider a ray r0 incident of a flat dielectric interface where the refractive index changes from

n0 to n1 as shown in figure 3. After the interface, we have from Snells Law, again assuming

small angles, then,

n0

r1 = r0 and 1 = 0

n1

which in matrix formulation can be written as

1 0

r1 = M r0 where M =

0 nn10

so giving us the matrix for a flat dielectric interface.

See tutorial 3.1 as an example of using and combining these initial two matrices.

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n0

n1

Ray

1

r0

P

Optical Axis

3.2.3 Thin Lens

Consider a ray r0 incident on a thin lens of focal length f in plane P1 , as shown in figure 4. If

we assume the lens is thin, then r1 = r0 . The angle expression is slightly more complex being

dependent on both r0 and 0 . From figure 4 we have that,

0 =

r0

u

and 1 =

r0

v

We recognise planes P0 and P2 as the object and image planes of the lens, to u and v are linked

by the Gaussian Lens Formula of,

1 1 1

+ =

u v

f

so but substitution we get that,

1 =

r0 r0

r0

= 0

u

f

f

r1 = M r0

where

M=

1

1

f

0

1

giving the matrix for a thin lens of focal length f . This is valid for both positive lenses (where

f > 0) and negative lenses (where f < 0).

Ray

P0

P1

P2

The most complex, but also the most useful, surface is the spherical dielectric interface between

two materials of refractive index n0 and n1 , with radius of curvature R as shown in figure 5.

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n0

n1

r0

P

Optical Axis

Interface

r0

n1

n0

Figure 6: Detail of curved dielectric interface of radius R with added construction angles.

Since the interface is of zero thickness, then clearly r1 = r0 , but the angular relation is much

more complex. Consider the more detailed drawing of the interface in figure 6.

The angles 0 and 1 are the angles the ray makes with the surface normal which, for a spherical

surface, is the line from r0 back to the centre of curvature c. For a dielectric interface 0 and 1

are linked by Snells Law, so for small angles, we have that

n 0 0 = n 1 1

We also have that

0 = 0

and

1 = 1

where is the angle between the surface normal and the optical axis. From this we can then

solve for 1 to give

n0 n1

n0

1 = 0 +

n1

n1

Additionally from the geometry, we have for small angles, that = r0 /R, so we get a final

expression for 1 of

n0 n1

n0

1 =

r0 +

0

n1 R

n1

which in matrix formulation can be written as

r1 = M r0

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where

M=

n0 n1

n1 R

0

n0

n1

Note the sign of the radius of curvature of the surface. R > 0 gives a concave surface as shown

in the above figures, while R < 0 gives a convex surface. See tutorial 3.2 to shown that is this

is consistent with the lens makers formula from previous.

Using R the radius of curvature to characterise has numerical problems since for a flat surface

the radius becomes infinite. It is therefore computationally more convenient to define curvature,

C=

1

R

M=

C(n0 n1 )

n1

0

n0

n1

Now a flat surface simply has curvature C = 0, which is then identical to the matrix for a flat

dielectric surface discussed above.

So given this set of matrices we can now model any par-axial system containing curved dielectric surfaces with spaces between them, so in practice any system containing lenses.

Note we actually only need two of the matrices, these being (a) for propagation a distance d

and (b) refraction at a spherical dielectric interface. The other matrices being combinations or

special cases of these two.

To complete the analysis tools we need to consider three ray geometries. The first is, given a

ray in plane P0 the location of the plane P1 where it crosses the optical axis as shown in figure 7.

P0

Ray

r

0

P1

Optical Axis

Figure 7: Location of the plane where a ray crosses the optical axis.

If the ray in plane P0 has ray vector,

r

r=

then noting that downward angles are negative, the distance from P0 to P1 is given by

d=

with d > 0 specifying that P1 is the right of P0 and d < 0 that P1 is to the left of P0 .

The second is given two rays in P0 the location of the plane P1 where they cross each other as

shown in figure 8.

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P0

r2

r1

0

P1

Optical Axis

If in plane P0 we have two rays,

r

r1 = 1

1

r

and r2 = 2

2

d=

r1 r2

2 1

where again d > 0 specifying that P1 is the right of P0 and d < 0 that P1 is to the left of P0 . The

distance d when in the first case = 0 and in the second 1 = 2 .

The third is given a ray in plane P0 , what is its height in plane P1 separated by a distance d.

This is denoted by h in figure 8. Simple geometry shows that if in P0 we have

r

r=

then h = r + d

Now give this set of tools, we are able to apply them to optical system.

Consider the rather complex system as shown in figure 9, where we have a three element

lens system defined by six curvatures, (C1 C6 ), three refractive indexes (n1 n3 ) and five

separation distances (d1 d5 ). We then place an object of height r in plane P0 a distance d0

from the front of the lens system.

If we define the lens system as being between planes P1 P2 , then for each curved dielectric

surface and propagation distance we can form a matrix, in this case we get 11 matrices, 6 from

the curved surfaces and 5 from the propagations, being

M1

M2

M3

M10

M11

= propagation distance d1

= n1 /air interface with curvature C2

= propagation distance d5

= n3 /air interface with curvature C6

Ms = M11 M10 . . . M2 M1

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n1

C1

C2 C3

n2

C4 C5

n3

C6

r

h

P0

P1

d0

Mo

P2

d1

d 2 d3

d4

d5

P3

d6

Ms

Figure 9: Image location and magnification of a multi-element lens by matrix ray methods.

which will describe propagation between planes P1 and P2 , being the front and back surfaces

of the lens system, these being know at the input and output planes of the system.

If we locate an object in plane P0 , the propagation from P0 P1 is again described by a matrix,

Mo , so we can form total matrix

MT = Ms Mo

which describes propagation from the input plane P0 to P2 , being the back surface of the lens.

To find the image location and magnification,

1. Propagate two rays from P0 to P2 with the same initial height, say unity, but different

angles using the MT matrix.

2. The plane where these rays cross will give the location of the image plane, d6 in the

above figure, relative to the output plane P2 . d6 > 0 signifies a real image, while d6 < 0

a virtual image.

The condition that d6 , the image is formed at infinity, can be identified checking if

the two rays in plane P2 have the same angle .

3. The height h of the either ray (both the same), in plane P3 will give the system magnification as

h

M=

r

with M > 0 signifying an upright image and M < 0 an inverted image.

So once the system matrix Ms has been formed, this operation can be repeated for any object

distance. Such calculations are best performed by computer. There is a accompanying set

of JAVA classes to do these calculations allowing you to experiment, these are detailed in the

appendix to these notes.

The system matrix Ms is formed from a multiplication of the component matrices, in the above

example 11 of them to calculate propagation of a ray from P1 the input plane of the lens, to P2

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the output plane of the lens. From the previous section, we note that the determinate of all the

component matrices are unity except the two representing a refractive index change at either a

flat or curved interface, where for a n0 n1 interface,

n0

|M| =

n1

so noting that for matrices, if we have that

C = BA

then

Then if we have a system with a series of refractive index changes as show in figure 10, 7 in

this case, the determinant for the whole system,

n0 n1

n6 n7 n0

|Ms | =

...

=

n1 n2

n7 n8 n8

so the ratio of the initial to final refractive index.

Ms

n0

P1

n1

d1

d2

n3

n4 n 5 n 6

d3

d4

d5

d6

n7

d7

n8

P2

In the more common situation, as shown in figure 9, we have the same refractive index in-front

and behind the optical system, usually air. So in these situations,

|Ms | = 1

The one common system where this is not true in in the human eye, which we will consider in

more detail in Topic 5.

If for a system of lenses we have a optical matrix Ms , which describes the propagation from

plane P1 P2 , as discussed above, then for ray r1 in plane P1 , then in P2 we get ray r2 , being

r2 = Ms r1

so by simple matrix rules, we have that

r1 = M1

s r2

so the inverse of Ms describes propagation backwards from plane P2 back to plane P1 , which is

equivalent of going back through the lens by reversing the direction of propagation of the rays.

Since Ms is just a 2 2 matrix, the inverse is simply given by,

1

a b

d b

1

Ms =

then Ms =

c d

|Ms | c a

which for the most common case of a lens system in air where the determinant is unity, it

becomes a simple re-arrangement of the matrix elements.

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When dealing with multi-lens systems it is convenient to think in terms of focal length, however

this does require a little additional thought. Consider the complex multi-element optical system

shown in figure 11 (a) with input plane P1 and output plane P2 .

Ms

(a)

P1

P2

r1

Pf

r2

t

Pb

(b)

P2

Pf

Back Focal

Plane

fb

Back Focal Length

Figure 11: Back Principal Plane and focal length of a Multi-element system.

We first calculate the system matrix Ms which describes propagation between plane P1 P2 .

If we then consider a ray parallel to the optical axis of unit height, then in the output plane P2

we will have a ray

1

r2

r2 =

= Ms

2

0

which crosses the optical axis at a distance t from plane P2 in plane Pfb where

t=

r2

.

2

Due to the imaging properties of any lens, all input rays parallel to the optical axis will be

focused at the same point, also any pair of parallel rays entering plane P1 will also cross in

plane Pfb . This defines plane Pfb as the Back Focal Plane of the system, being the plane in

which an image of an infinite object will be formed.

The whole optical system defined by Ms is therefore acting as a single thins lens of focal length

fb located in a plane Pb which, in general, is displaced from P2 , the back aperture of the system.

This plane Pb is defined as the Back Principal Plane and the fb as the back focal length of the

system.

The location of Pb is where ray r2 and the input r1 crosses, so noting that

r2

1

r2 =

and r1 =

2

0

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s=

1 r2

2

then noting that s is the distance from P2 back to Pb , the back focal length is then just fb = t s,

so combining there two we get that

1

fb =

2

If we write the 2 2 system matrix in its components, being

a b

Ms =

c d

then we immediately have that,

a

r2 =

c

r2 = a and

2 = c

a

position of Back Focal Plane

c

1a

=

position of Back Principal Plane

c

1

Back Focal Length

=

c

t = P2 Pfb =

s = P2 Pb

fb = Pb Pfb

We can then repeat the operation to find the equivalent front planes by tracing a ray of unit

height from plane P2 back to P1 as shown in figure 12.

Noting, from above, that the propagating back from P2 to P1 is equivalent to taking the inverse

of the system matrix, then in plane P1 we have ray

r1

1 1

r1 =

= Ms

0

1

so the ray cross the optical axis a distance t from plane P1 in plane Pf f , where now,

t=

r1

1

where Pf f is the Front Focal Plane. Similarly the distance from P1 to Pf , the Front Principal

Plane is

1 r1

s=

1

and the front focal length, is then given by

ff =

1

1

Note in this case f f is negative, since it is the distance from the Front Principal Plane back to

the Front Focal Plane.

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Ms

Pf

(a)

P1

P2

r1

r2

Front Focal

Plane

Pf

Pf

P1

(b)

t

s

ff

Front Focal Length

Figure 12: Front Principal Plane and focal length of a Multi element system.

The inverse system matrix

M1

s

1

d

=

|Ms | c

b

d

=

c

a

b

a

where for the usual case of the same refractive index on both sides of the system, a = a etc.,

so we immediately have that

d

r1 = d and 1 = c

r1 =

c

so giving that get that

t = P1 Pf f

s = P1 Pf

f f = Pf Pf f

d

= position of Front Focal Plane

c

d 1

position of Front Principal Plane

=

c

1

= Front Focal Length

c

so giving us the locations of the planes and the focal lengths in terms of the system matrix

elements. Not in almost all cases, the determinate is unity, so

f f = fb

so the front focal length is the same as the back focal length, with the negative signifying the

direction of the front and back focal planes from the front and back principle planes.

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To illustrate the use and properties of principal planes, it is best to start with simple numerical

example. Take a thick lens lens with parameters,

Front Surface

R1

Thickness

t

Back Surface

R2

Refractive Index n

200 mm

20 mm

-100 mm

1.50

From these we can calculate the system matrix for propagation from input to output planes,

numerically it is,

0.9667 13.333

Ms =

0.0073 0.9330

we can then use this matrix to calculate the planes as shown in figure 13. This gives the focal

length to be 136.36 mm.

9.09

4.54

fb = 136.36

Pf

Pb

R2 = 100

R1 = 200

n = 1.5

P1

P2

d = 131.82

t = 20

Pf

Figure 13: Locations of plane of a Thick Lens, all length are in mm.

.

See workshop question 3.5 to do this calculation yourself using the supplied program.

The important point about Principal Planes is when we come to consider imaging. Take the

same lens as in figure 13, but now use it to image an object as shown in figure 14. Here we

place an object a distance do from the input plane of the lens, P1 . If we trace a ray from the

base of the object at angle 1 , then at the input plane P1 we have ray r1 , we know the system

matrix Ms , we can calculate r2 in plane P2 and hence the image distance di . We can then trace

a ray from the top of the object of height ho , and find the image height hi . For the above lens a

typical set of numerical results is shown below.

Object distance

d0

Image distance

d1

hi /ho

Magnification

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300 mm

244.02 mm

-0.7894

s=9.09

t=4.54

Pf

Pb

Object

ho

rf

r1

r2

rb

do

di

hi

Image

n = 1.5

P1

P2

t = 20

Figure 14: Location of object and image for a thick lens be considering the Principal Planes.

Now is we define the object and image distances with respect to the Principal Planes, as

u = do + s Object to Pf distance

v = t + di Pb to Image distance

then we find, that

1 1 1

+ =

u v

f

M=

v

u

which gets us back to the Gaussian Lens Formula. The numerical values for the above geometry

are:

u

v

f

M

=

=

=

=

309.09 mm

244.02 mm

136.36 mm

0.7894

which you can verify yourself! See question 3.6 for the rather difficult analytic calculation of

this same result.

Also importantly if we take ray r1 in plane P1 and project it to the front Principal Plane, it

intersects it at height r f . If we repeat the process for ray r2 in plane P2 and project it to the back

Principal Plane, it intersects it at height rb . It can be shown (see question 3.6), that

r f = rb

so that a ray entering Pf at height r f will leave Pb at the same height, only is direction will be

changed. This characterised the Principal Planes as Planes of Unit Magnification.

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This means that the propagation between the two principal planes is equivalent to a thin lens

of focal length f , the focal length of system. The imaging properties are shown in figure 15.

Therefore the imaging between the system input plane P1 and output plane P2 can be considered

are being:

1. Propagation from plane P1 to Pf , the front Principle Plane.

2. Refraction by an ideal thin lens of focal length f , which gives output in plane Pb , the

back Principle Plane.

3. Propagation from Pb to P2 , the output plane. (Note the expression calculated above for

the location of plane Pb is the distance from P2 Pb ).

See question 3.7 for a numerical example of this.

P1

Object

Pf

Pb

P2

v

u

f

s

Image

In all this analysis we have not discussed the distance between the principal planes Pf and Pb ,

e in figure 15, or the distance between the input and output planes P1 and P2 , e in figure 15, but

only the position of the principle planes relative to the in input and output planes being s and t

respectively. There distances are clearly linked with

d = s+et

but neither d or e can be recovered from the system matrix. So to obtain a full description of

the optical system is is therefore necessary to know one of theses.

This analysis allows us to characterise complex optical system, as are found in camera lenses,

projector lenses, microscope objectives etc., by using simple par-axial geometric optics. In

particular if the location of the principal planes and focal length of a compound lens are known

then we have fully characterised its imaging properties and thus how it will function in an

optical system. As shown in question 3.7, we can form the system matrix from the location of

the principal planes and focal length.

In Topic 5, we will discuss how to actually measure the location of principal planes and focal

length of a compounds lens, so allowing us to apply this analysis to real optical systems.

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This matrix scheme for geometrical optics gives an analytically and computationally simple

route to calculate be basic parameters of complex optical system, however it is limited the

par-axial approximation in particular:

1. rays make small angles with the optical axis, so we can take

sin tan

This implies small object, or more correctly object much smaller than their image or

object distances.

2. spherical surfaces are approximated by parabolic surfaces, which assumes that surfaces

have shallow curves, (large radius of curvature), or more correctly, the small aperture

compared to there radius of curvature.

These assumptions have the effect of linearising the equations, (removing the sin() and ), so

allowing us to apply linear matrix methods to the problem. For optical systems this analysis

will give:

1. correct location on object, image and principal planes,

2. correct focal length and magnification,

3. no information about imaging quality (aberration),

4. no information how the performance of the system changes with object size or lens aperture size.

This scheme is however very useful in understanding the operation of pre-assembled system

and also for design of systems from pre-made components. We will be using it in Topic 5 to

look at various practical optical systems. It does not however give a detailed analysis of the

imaging quality or the design of actual components.

???

The next step in Geometrical optics is full ray tracing where we use the full Snells Law expression, and the full expression for the shape of the surfaces. This also allow us to deal with

non spherical surfaces, know as aspherical surfaces. The basic geometry for such an analysis is

shown in figure 16, where the rays directions are characterised by unit vector r and the surfaces

normal by u.

In three dimensions the vector formulation of Snells Law can be shown to be given by

= n2 (r2 u)

n1 (r1 u)

which for reflection,shown in figure 16.a, can be relatively simply expressed as,

u

r 2 = r 1 2 (r1 .u)

while for refraction, shown in figure 16.b, we get the rather more complex relation that,

n1 (r1 .u)]

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^r

2

^u

a)

^u

b)

^r1

^r2

^r1

n1

R

n2

Figure 16: Geometry for full ray tracing with ray direction and surface normals characterised

by unit vectors.

where

1

r 1 .u 2

2 2

n2 n21 1 (r1 .u)

|r1 .u|

=

n2 (r2 .u)

provided that we are below critical angle. These expression do not simplify any further and

have to be calculated digitally at each surface3 .

So with reference to figure 17 can trace a ray from point p0 with direction r0 by,

1. find intersection point with surface S1 , being p1 . If S1 is flat, spherical or parabolic

surface the intersection point p1 has an analytic solution, for other shapes is also require

iteration,

2. find the surface normal u1 at point p1 .

3. calculate r2 from the vector form of Snells Law,

4. find intersection with S2 , being p2 , and repeat the process.

u1

u2

r1

r0

p0

p1

p2

n1

n0

S1

r2

n2

S2

To analyse an optical system we now trace pencils of many rays which as shown in figure 18,

which shows the typical result for a pencil of parallel rays incident on a positive lens. The paraxial rays are focused to the expected geometrical focus as in the back focal plane, but the outer

rays are focused short which results in a blurred image. This blurring is known as aberrations,

in this case the cause is Spherical Aberration caused by the spherical surfaces.

3

In the early days this was done graphically with angles calculated by hand.

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Figure 18: Schematic of tracing a pencil of parallel rays through a positive lens. The par-axial

rays are focused a distance f behind the lens but the outer rays are focused short.

There are a series of aberrations types, and the aim of optical design is to use combination

of surfaces to cancel, or a least reduce the aberrations to an acceptable level, so that the real

system closely matches the performance of the ideal par-axial system. We will look as some

simple examples in Topic 5, but any significant analysis is beyond this type of optics course.

Optical ray tracing is an ideal computational task, being one of the first computerised numerical tasks. Optical ray tracing is usually combined with computer aided optical design in an

integrated package that allows the user to predict the optical performance of a system and also

optimise the design by iterative modification of the surfaces curvatures and component thicknesses.

3.10 Summary

In this section we have,

1. described the matrix scheme for the par-axial geometric analysis of optical system

2. shown that by tracing rays, this system can be used to determine the imaging properties

of complex optical systems,

3. shows that complex optical system can be represented by a simple 2 2 matrix, the

system matrix,

4. investigated to properties of the system matrix in particular its determinant which gives

the ratio of refractive index on object to image side of the system, and its inverse, which

gives the imaging properties of rays reversed back through the lens,

5. defined the principal planes and shown how they can be calculated from the system

matrix,

6. shown how a complex optical system can be specified by it principal planes and focal

length, and how this relates to the simple Gaussian Lens Formula,

7. discussed the limitations of matrix rays methods, and outlined the underlying models of

full ray tracing as the next level of complexity in geometric analysis of optical system.

The methods covered in this topic will be used in the analysis of practical optical systems in

Topic 5.

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Workshop Questions

3.1 Dielectric Block

Calculate the 2 2 matrix operator that corresponds to a block of dielectric material with parallel sides, length l and refractive index n.

Use the matrix operators for a spherical dielectric surface to calculate the overall matrix operator for the thins lens as shown below.

R2

n

R1

Show that your answer is equivalent to the matrix operator for a simple thin lens.

Use matrix methods to calculate the focal length of two thin lenses of focal length f1 and f2

placed in contact with each other.

A Galilean beam expander consists of a short focal length negative lens and a long focal length

and positive lens arranges as follows,

f2 f

1

r2

r1

f1

f2

Run the supplied JAVA program to explore the focal length, location of principal planes and

geometric imaging properties of a thick lens.

To run simply type,

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java /ifp/java/examples/optics/ThickLens

using any of the CPL AB systems.

This program uses the D ISPLAY classes from S CIENTIFIC P ROGRAMMING to ask you for the

parameters and and performs the calculation when you click G O. It involves no programming!

dx

Show that any ray passing through a lens system from input to output planes will be at the same

height from the optical axis in the front and back Principal Planes of the system.

Hence, show analytically, that the this system obeys the Gaussian Lens Equation

1 1 1

+ =

u v

f

where u is the object to front principle plane distance, v is the back principal plane to image

distance and f is the focal length of the system.

An optical system has focal length f , and principal planes Pf and Pb located a distance s and t

respectively from the input and output planes. Derive the system matrix for propagation from

the input to output planes in terms of f , s and t. Check that your answer is numerically correct

using the numbers for the thick lens supplied in the notes.

Using the JAVA classes for ParaxialRay and ParaxialMatrix, write a JAVA program calculate the imaging properties to a system of two thin lenses, as in question 2.13 and 2.14 from the

previous section, where you can specify the focal lengths of the both lenses, their separation

and location of the object plane. Your program should then calculate the location of image

plane and the linear magnification of the formed image.

Test your program with the parameters from 2.13 and 2.14 and make sure you get the same

answers!.

dx

Show that vector form of Snells Law, being

= n2 (r2 u)

n1 (r1 u)

is consistent with the normal formulation of Snells Law when applied to the system below.

School of Physics

^r

1

n1

x

n2

^r

2

School of Physics