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Proceedings Article

Rotating light with light: Generation of helical modes of light by spin-to-orbital angular momentum conversion in inhomogeneous liquid crystals

[+] Author Affiliations
Lorenzo Marrucci

Univ. degli Studi di Napoli Federico II (Italy)

Proc. SPIE 6587, Liquid Crystals and Applications in Optics, 658708 (May 09, 2007); doi:10.1117/12.722305
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From Conference Volume 6587

  • Liquid Crystals and Applications in Optics
  • Milada Glogarova; Peter Palffy-Muhoray; Martin Copic
  • Prague, Czech Republic | April 16, 2007

abstract

I review recent results on a novel method for generating helical waves of visible light based on inhomogeneous birefringent plates made of a suitably patterned liquid crystal. These devices, dubbed "q-plates", act on the light wave by converting its spin angular momentum into orbital angular momentum, an optical process not envisioned before. The output helical wave can be easily and rapidly switched between opposite wavefront helicities by switching the input polarization with standard electro-optics devices. The process can be cascaded, so that rapid switching can take place among multiple values of the wavefront helicity. More generally, patterned liquid-crystal devices similar to those realized for generating helical beams may be used for shaping the optical wavefront in any prescribed way, with the possibility of dynamical polarization multiplexing between conjugate wavefronts. This is an application of the Pancharatnam-Berry phase principle, allowing the realization of a novel kind of optical elements for wavefront shaping. Potential developments in the fields of optical communication and quantum computation are briefly discussed.

© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Citation

Lorenzo Marrucci
"Rotating light with light: Generation of helical modes of light by spin-to-orbital angular momentum conversion in inhomogeneous liquid crystals", Proc. SPIE 6587, Liquid Crystals and Applications in Optics, 658708 (May 09, 2007); doi:10.1117/12.722305; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.722305


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