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Symmetry constraints for vector scattering and transfer matrices containing evanescent components: energy conservation, reciprocity and time reversal

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posted on 2023-11-30, 21:04 authored by Niall Byrnes, Matthew R. Foreman
In this work we study the scattering and transfer matrices for electric fields defined with respect to an angular spectrum of plane waves. For these matrices, we derive the constraints that are enforced by conservation of energy, reciprocity and time reversal symmetry. Notably, we examine the general case of vector fields in three dimensions and allow for evanescent field components. Moreover, we consider fields described by both continuous and discrete angular spectra, the latter being more relevant to practical applications, such as optical scattering experiments. We compare our results to better-known constraints, such as the unitarity of the scattering matrix for far-field modes, and show that previous results follow from our framework as special cases. Finally, we demonstrate our results numerically with a simple example of wave propagation at a planar glass-air interface, including the effects of total internal reflection. Our formalism makes minimal assumptions about the nature of the scattering medium and is thus applicable to a wide range of scattering problems.

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