A Bessel beam is a field of electromagnetic, acoustic or even gravitational radiation whose amplitude is described by a Bessel function of the first kind. A true Bessel beam is non-diffractive. This means that as it propagates, it does not diffract and spread out; this is in contrast to the usual behavior of light (or sound), which spreads out after being focussed down to a small spot. Bessel beams are also self-healing, meaning that the beam can be partially obstructed at one point, but will re-form at a point further down the beam axis.
As with a plane wave a true Bessel beam cannot be created, as it is unbounded and would require an infinite amount of energy. Reasonably good approximations can be made, however, and these are important in many optical applications because they exhibit little or no diffraction over a limited distance. Approximations to Bessel beams are made in practice by focusing a Gaussian beam with an axicon lens to generate a Bessel-Gauss beam, or by placing a narrow annular aperture in the far field.
The properties of Bessel beams make them extremely useful for optical tweezing, as a narrow Bessel beam will maintain its required property of tight focus over a relatively long section of beam and even when partially occluded by the dielectric particles being tweezed. Similarly, particle manipulation with acoustical tweezers may be feasible with a Bessel beam that scatters and produces a radiation force resulting from the exchange of acoustic momentum between the wave-field and a particle placed along its path.
The mathematical function which describes a Bessel beam is a solution of Bessel's differential equation, which itself arises from separable solutions to Laplace's equation and the Helmholtz equation in cylindrical coordinates. The fundamental zero-order Bessel beam has an amplitude maximum at the origin, while a high-order Bessel beam (HOBB) has an axial phase singularity along the beam axis; the amplitude is zero there. HOBBs can be of vortex (helicoidal) or non-vortex types.
Mathieu beams and parabolic (Weber) beams  are other types of non-diffractive beams that have the same non-diffractive and self-healing properties of Bessel beams but different transverse structures.
- Kishan Dholakia; David McGloin, and Vene Garcés-Chávez (2002). "Optical micromanipulating using a self-reconstructing light beam". Retrieved 2007-02-06.
See also V. Garcés-Chávez; D. McGloin, H. Melville, W. Sibbett and K. Dholakia (2002). "Simultaneous micromanipulation in multiple planes using a self-reconstructing light beam". Nature 419 (6903): 145–7. Bibcode:2002Natur.419..145G. doi:10.1038/nature01007. PMID 12226659. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
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- New microscope captures 3D movies of living cells gizmag.com (switched Bessel beams used effectively in real-time microscopy)
- 'Tractor beam' is possible with lasers, say scientists
- Ultrasound (zeroth-order) Bessel beam profile - Front cover image (April 2002 Issue of the IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferr. Freq. Ctrl.)