Kirchhoff integral theorem
Kirchhoff's integral theorem (sometimes referred to as the Fresnel-Kirchhoff integral theorem) uses Green's identities to derive the solution to the homogeneous wave equation at an arbitrary point P in terms of the values of the solution of the wave equation and its first-order derivative at all points on an arbitrary surface that encloses P.
where the integration is performed over an arbitrary closed surface S (enclosing r), s is the distance from the surface element to the point r, and ∂/∂n denotes differentiation along the surface normal (a normal derivative). Note that in this equation the normal points inside the enclosed volume; if the more usual outer-pointing normal is used, the integral has the opposite sign.
A more general form can be derived for non-monochromatic waves. The complex amplitude of the wave can be represented by a Fourier integral of the form:
where, by Fourier inversion, we have:
The integral theorem (above) is applied to each Fourier component Uω, and the following expression is obtained:
where the square brackets on V terms denote retarded values, i.e. the values at time t − s/c.
Kirchhoff showed the above equation can be approximated in many cases to a simpler form, known as the Kirchhoff, or Fresnel–Kirchhoff diffraction formula, which is equivalent to the Huygens–Fresnel equation, but provides a formula for the inclination factor, which is not defined in the latter. The diffraction integral can be applied to a wide range of problems in optics.
- Kirchhoff's diffraction formula
- Vector calculus
- Huygens–Fresnel principle
- G. Kirchhoff, Ann. d. Physik. 1883, 2, 18, p663
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- Introduction to Fourier Optics J. Goodman sec. 3.3.3
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