Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Beam diameter

Beam diameter: Of an electromagnetic beam, along any specified line that (a) intersects the beam axis and (b) lies in any specified plane normal to the beam axis, the distance between the two diametrically opposite points at which the irradiance is a specified fraction, e.g., ½ or 1/ε, of the beam's peak irradiance.

Note 1: Beam diameter is usually used to characterize electromagnetic beams in the optical regime, and occasionally in the microwave regime, i.e., cases in which the aperture from which the beam emerges is very large with respect to the wavelength.

Note 2: Beam diameter usually refers to a beam of circular cross section, but not necessarily so. A beam may, for example, have an elliptical cross section, in which case the orientation of the beam diameter must be specified, e.g., with respect to the major or minor axis of the elliptical cross section.

Source: from Federal Standard 1037C and from MIL-STD-188