Beam shaping is the process of redistributing the irradiance and phase of a beam of optical radiation. The beam shape is defined by the irradiance distribution. The phase of the shaped beam is a major factor in determining the propagation properties of the beam profile. For example, a reasonably large beam with a uniform phase front will maintain this shape over a considerable propagation distance. Beam shaping technology can be applied to both coherent and incoherent beams. Applications of beam shaping include laser/material processing, laser/material interaction studies, laser weapons, optical data image processing, lithography, printing, and laser art patterns. .
Reference: Fred M. Dickey, Laser Beam Shaping: Theory and Techniques, second edition, New York: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014.