Stream function for optical energy flow

M. V. Berry, M. R. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

8 Citations (Scopus)


A formula is presented for the stream function S corresponding to optical fields in the plane that can be represented as a superposition of plane waves with the same transverse wavenumbers, including evanescent waves. Energy flow lines (parallel to the Poynting vector) are easily computed as contour lines of S. Optical vortices (including higher-order vortices) correspond to extrema of S.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064004
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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