Based on Wolf's general theory of partial coherence, the analytical propagation expression for the cross-spectral density matrix of vector Gaussian-Schell-mode (GSM) beams passing through a paraxial optical ABCD system is derived, which permits us to deal with propagation properties of vector GSM beams including the propagation-induced polarization changes, effect of the spectrum bandwidth, and irradiance distributions in a unique way. A comparison with scalar GSM beams is also made, showing the role of the use of an anisotropic polarizer in distinguishing vector and scalar GSM beams. © 2002 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
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