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1999 | 50 | 1 | 169-177
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Topology and geometry of caustics in relation with experiments

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Caustics of geometrical optics are understood as special types of Lagrangian singularities. In the compact case, they have remarkable topological properties, expressed in particular by the Chekanov relation. We show how this relation may be experimentally checked on an example of biperiodic caustics produced by the deflection of the light by a nematic liquid crystal layer. Moreover the physical laws may impose a geometrical constraint, when the system is invariant by some group of symmetries. We show, on the example of polyhedral caustics, how the two constraints force degenerate umbilics of integer index to appear and determine their spatial organization.
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  • Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, Université de Paris-Sud, bât. 510, 91 405 Orsay cedex, France
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