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Airy Pattern Basics

Airy Pattern Basics

The three-dimensional diffraction pattern formed by a circular aperture near
the focal point in a well-corrected microscope is symmetrically periodic
along the axis of the microscope as well as radially around the axis. When this
diffraction pattern is sectioned in the focal plane, it is observed as the classical
two-dimensional diffraction spectrum known as the Airy pattern. This tutorial (with applet)
explores how Airy pattern size changes with objective numerical aperture
and the wavelength of illumination; it also simulates the close approach of two
Airy patterns.
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