Kevin Liang, G.W. Forbes, and Miguel a. Alonso
Assessment of the performance degradation caused by the mid-spatial frequency (MSF) structure on optical surfaces often relies on a perturbation method that dovetails with the familiar sequence of models based on geometrical and physical optics. In the case of imaging systems, the perturbative step yields estimates of wavefronts in the exit pupil which are, in turn, used to extract performance measures such as MTF, PSF, and Strehl ratio. To date, the validity of that perturbation appears to be poorly understood. We present methods to estimate the errors of this approach and thereby arrive at a rule of thumb for its accuracy: the error is approximately equal to the RMS of the MSF structure at its source multiplied by the square of the ratio between a particular Fresnel zone size and a characteristic length of the MSF structure.