Abstract

The contrast-transfer-function (CTF) approximation, widely used in various phase-contrast imaging techniques, is revisited. CTF validity conditions are extended to a wide class of strongly absorbing and refracting objects, as well as to nonuniform partially coherent incident illumination. Partially coherent free-space propagators, describing amplitude and phase in-line contrast, are introduced and their properties are investigated. The present results are relevant to the design of imaging experiments with partially coherent sources, as well as to the analysis and interpretation of the corresponding images.

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