A method and apparatus maps a Gaussian beam into a beam with a uniform irradiance profile by exploiting the Fourier transform properties of lenses. A phase element imparts a design phase onto an input beam and the output optical field from a lens is then the Fourier transform of the input beam and the phase function from the phase element. The phase element is selected in accordance with a dimensionless parameter which is dependent upon the radius of the incoming beam, the desired spot shape, the focal length of the lens and the wavelength of the input beam. This dimensionless parameter can also be used to evaluate the quality of a system. In order to control the radius of the incoming beam, optics such as a telescope can be employed. The size of the target spot and the focal length can be altered by exchanging the transform lens, but the dimensionless parameter will remain the same. The quality of the system, and hence the value of the dimensionless parameter, can be altered by exchanging the phase element. The dimensionless parameter provides design guidance, system evaluation, and indication as to how to improve a given system.

GOVERNMENT RIGHTS
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Department of Energy Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000 with Sandia Corporation.