An advanced 2D mode theory of plane electromagnetic wave diffraction by a transmission dielectric grating (rectangular relief or planar sinusoidal one) is considered. On the bases of this theory, a new model of diffraction of a spatially inhomogeneous light field (a Gaussian beam) by a transmission grating with arbitrary thickness is developed. It provides the opportunity to compute the transverse spatial structure of radiation diffraction orders and to estimate character of their distortions in comparison with the initial Gaussian beam structure. It is shown that such distortions appear under abrupt variations of intensity of all orders and can be caused by transformation of a certain diffraction order from the radiation regime of propagation into the waveguide regime and inversely (Wood's anomalies), and also it can be induced by a set of additional reflections on the boundaries of a thick substrate.
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