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Phys Rev Lett. 2003 Dec 5;91(23):233901. Epub 2003 Dec 2.

Sharper focus for a radially polarized light beam.

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Max-Planck-Research-Group for Optics, Information and Photonics, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, D-91058 Erlangen, Germany.


We experimentally demonstrate for the first time that a radially polarized field can be focused to a spot size significantly smaller [0.16(1)lambda(2)] than for linear polarization (0.26lambda(2)). The effect of the vector properties of light is shown by a comparison of the focal intensity distribution for radially and azimuthally polarized input fields. For strong focusing, a radially polarized field leads to a longitudinal electric field component at the focus which is sharp and centered at the optical axis. The relative contribution of this component is enhanced by using an annular aperture.

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