Bessel beams: diffraction in a new light
Diffraction is a cornerstone of optical physics and has implications for the design of all optical systems. The paper discusses the so-called 'non-diffracting' light field, commonly known as the Bessel beam. Approximations to such beams can be experimentally realized using a range of different means. The theoretical foundation of these beams is described and then various experiments that make use of Bessel beams are discussed: these cover a wide range of fields including non-linear optics, where the intense central core of the Bessel beam has attracted interest; short pulse non-diffracting fields; atom optics, where the narrow non-diffracting features of the Bessel beam are able to act as atomic guides and atomic confinement devices and optical manipulation, where the reconstruction properties of the beam enable new effects to be observed that cannot be seen with Gaussian beams. The intensity profile of the Bessel beam may offer routes to investigating statistical physics as well as new techniques for the optical sorting of particles.
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