Rayleigh Was Right: Electromagnetic Fields and Corrugated Interfaces

Alexandre V. Tishchenko

Lord Rayleigh theorized that the electromagnetic field in a periodically corrugated interface is composed of waves outgoing from the interface. A careful numerical analysis suggests that this hypothesis is true well beyond the commonly stated limit.


figureDiffraction pattern with an electromagnetic field wave. Adapted from Thomas W. Mossberg's January 2008 After Image.

One of Lord Rayleigh's profound intuitions was to assume that the electromagnetic field at a periodically corrugated interface can be represented on the basis of outgoing waves. Ever since the means for numerical modeling became available in the 1960s, the Rayleigh hypothesis has been regarded as an approximation at best, and the related method was put away like a museum artifact. The time has come to revisit this powerful idea.

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