Bessel beams: Diffraction in a new light

David Mcgloin, Kishan Dholakia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1163 Citations (Scopus)


Diffraction is a cornerstone of optical physics and has implications for the design of all optical systems. The paper discusses the so-called 'non-diffracting' light field, commonly known as the Bessel beam. Approximations to such beams can be experimentally realized using a range of different means. The theoretical foundation of these beams is described and then various experiments that make use of Bessel beams are discussed: these cover a wide range of fields including non-linear optics, where the intense central core of the Bessel beam has attracted interest; short pulse non-diffracting fields; atom optics, where the narrow non-diffracting features of the Bessel beam are able to act as atomic guides and atomic confinement devices and optical manipulation, where the reconstruction properties of the beam enable new effects to be observed that cannot be seen with Gaussian beams. The intensity profile of the Bessel beam may offer routes to investigating statistical physics as well as new techniques for the optical sorting of particles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DM gratefully acknowledges support from the Royal Society. KD acknowledges support from the UK’s EPSRC. We thank P. Saari and W.M. Lee for allowing us to use their images. We also thank G.F. Milne for supplying figure 11 and the experimental data pertaining to it.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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