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Ray tracing in concentric gradient-index media: optical Binet equation

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Abstract

The Binet equation in mechanics describes the orbital geometry of a moving particle under a central force field. In this paper, as its counterpart in optics, we show this formula can be similarly utilized in ray tracing of a gradient-index (GRIN) medium with a concentric field. As an inference of Fermat’s principle, this generalization is called the optical Binet equation (OBE). A remarkable advantage of OBE is that it can not only determine the ray trace or concentric GRIN field once one of them is given, but also derive the propagation time inside the medium. As examples, we apply OBE to rays passing through a Maxwell fish-eye lens, Luneburg lens, Eaton lens, concentrator, and hyperbolic deflector, the time delay of which can be calculated once the GRIN field or ray trace equation is solved. The results are well matched with simulations, proving it to be an effective tool in solving problems of the concentric GRIN field.

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