The use of scalar diffraction concepts to evaluate the amount of information that can be transferred with light is well documented. However, modern photonic systems tend to involve devices or configurations that cannot be modeled by simple scalar models. For example, classical approaches do not easily account for three-dimensional or near-field configurations. Moreover, the influence of noise in the process is critical to obtain meaningful measures of information. In this presentation I will incorporate information theoretic concepts into the theory of electromagnetic degrees of freedom between three-dimensional domains. As a consequence I will show how to evaluate the capacity of three-dimensional electromagnetic channels.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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