Abstract

The electric and magnetic components of an electromagnetic wave in free space are believed by many to be perpendicular to each other. We outline a procedure by which electromagnetic potentials are constructed, and we derive free-space nonperpendicular electric–magnetic fields from these potentials. We show, for example, that in free-space Bessel-related fields, at a small region near the origin, the angle between these components spans a range of 7°–173°, that is, they are far from being perpendicular. This can be contrasted with plane waves, where, following the same procedure, we verify that the electric field strength (E(x,y,z,t)) and the magnetic flux density (B(x,y,z,t)) are indeed perpendicular to each other and to the direction of propagation.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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