Abstract

The physical process of partially coherent image formation is analyzed. It has been proved that no higher harmonics exist in the image space of any imaging system; i.e., the spatial-frequency content of an image intensity is always a subset of the spatial-frequency content of the object intensity. The spatial-frequency content is a physical parameter reflecting the association of various intensity-frequency components. Because of nonlinearity of the imaging system, the association is transmitted from the object space into the image space. Therefore nonlinearity in optical image formation is of great significance in research fields such as x-ray diffraction and phase retrieval.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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