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Coupling to longitudinal modes of thin spherical shells, under Gaussian-beam illumination, was explored with a theoretical method based on Fourier-optics analysis and vector spherical harmonics and was scrutinized with an experimental setup. For the theory part, the illumination frequency band was fixed between 100–600 GHz and the outer spherical shell radius of curvature and thickness are 7.5 mm and 0.5 mm, respectively. The shell material was either the lossless cornea or an aqueous effective media representing the cornea. Six different beam-target strategies were introduced being potential candidates for maximum coupling. Two dispersion-tuned beam ensembles with strongly frequency-dependent phase center location have been created with a fixed incident beam 1/e radius and radius of curvature called forward strategies. These computations of different alignments were continued with four beam ensembles of frequency-invariant phase center, constructed from fits to experimental data, oriented at four different axial locations with respect to the spherical shell center of curvature, they are called reverse strategies. Coupling efficiency for all strategies was calculated for different targets including perfect electrical conductor (PEC) sphere, PEC core covered by a cornea loss-free layer and cornea. All scattering strategies contrasted to scattering from equivalent planar targets as a reference with maximum coupling. The results show that, under an ideal calibration, forward strategies are a closer approximation to the plane-wave condition for the cornea. An experimental setup was assembled to explore the simulation approach in a frequency range between 220 GHz to 330 GHz. Two different quartz samples with permittivity of 4.1 were mounted on a water core, acting for a cornea. The first and second quartz radius and thickness were 7.5 mm and 0.5 mm and 8 mm and 1 mm, respectively. An adequate agreement between theory and experiment was confirmed. A particle optimisation swarm algorithm was applied to extract the thickness and permittivity of quartz from the measured back-scattered field for reverse strategies.
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