Subduing the field of diffraction gratings

Diffraction Gratings and Applications is one of the latest in a long line of impressive volumes collectively called the Optical Engineering Series, edited by Brian J. Thompson. In the preface the authors state, "The aim of this book is to provide an overview to the field of diffraction gratings and their applications in a single volume." Few topics have been left out in their quest.

Aug 1st, 1997

Subduing the field of diffraction gratings

Diffraction Gratings and Applications (Optical Engineering Series,

Volume 58)

Erwin G. Loewen and Evgeny Popov, Marcel Dekker Inc.,

New York, 1997, 536 pages, $150

Diffraction Gratings and Applications is one of the latest in a long line of impressive volumes collectively called the Optical Engineering Series, edited by Brian J. Thompson. In the preface the authors state, "The aim of this book is to provide an overview to the field of diffraction gratings and their applications in a single volume." Few topics have been left out in their quest.

The authors begin with a historical perspective of the maturation of diffraction gratings. Basic grating properties and types are identified and reviewed before launching into even more in-depth discussions. General plane reflection and transmission gratings, special-case echelle and concave gratings, and waveguide, fiber, and acousto-optic gratings are focused on in subsequent chapters. The book then turns to theoretical description, fabrication, testing, and practical considerations in implementation, damage assessment, and recovery.

An enormous amount of information is conveyed. The authors clearly have an extensive understanding of and experience in designing, constructing, and using surface-relief diffraction gratings.

If there is a fault in the work, it is acknowledged by Loewen and Popov in their disclaimer, "To maintain a reasonable length many details must be left out. . . ." There are times, however, when more detail would likely make the topic more comprehensible to the reader. An extensive bibliography is provided to hel¥the reader gain more understanding. But reliance on references, as opposed to a few extra descriptive words, can leave the reader wrestling with an incomplete explanation of a concept frequently necessary to the understanding of the next section or chapter.

Loewen and Popov make extensive use of figures throughout the book. With some additional attention these figures could communicate even more to the reader. Figures are often not associated with related text, causing the reader to interrupt their study and search. Some figures are incorrectly referenced or have incorrect descriptions or legends.

This book is not for the novice. The authors indicate the audience is "the many users of gratings rather than specialists in their production." Some previous understanding of optics and, in particular, diffraction is necessary to fully understand the content. That is not to say there isn`t a great amount of information available here for the occasional grating user. Diffraction Gratings and Applications is appropriate for a department or company resource library where the user also has access to the numerous references.

James A. Arns

JAMES A. ARNS is principal optical systems engineer, Kaiser Optical Systems Inc., 371 Parkland Plaza, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

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