Abstract Title: OAM photonics: Sensing and Imaging Enhanced by Orbital Angular Momentum of Light

Nontechnical Abstract

The recent discovery of "twisted light" is very exciting because of the potential applications ranging from high-resolution biological imaging to increased bandwidth for communications. Additionally, twisted light carries orbital angular momentum, which can be used to spin micromachines or can interact with rotating objects. However, realization of these capabilities has been slowed by the complicated and expensive techniques for generating twisted light. This research will address this challenge by demonstrating simple, reliable, and inexpensive ways to generate, control, and detect light with orbital angular momentum. Specifically, the researchers propose to use inexpensive and commercially-available optical fiber to generate tunable twisted light. The advantages of this simple technique will then be demonstrated by developing improved sensing and imaging technologies that are enabled with the use of twisted light. This work has the potential to broadly impact the fields of engineering, physics and materials science by making twisted light sources and measurements inexpensive and reliable. Research results will disseminated to K-12 students, college and graduate students through outreach activities and research opportunities.

Technical Abstract

Since the discovery of the orbital angular momentum of light in 1992, numerous high-impact applications have been suggested, including biological imaging beyond the diffraction limit and faster communications through multiplexing with orbital angular momentum channels. However, implementation of these applications has been slowed by the complicated and expensive methods of generating twisted light. The proposed research will investigate the controllable manipulation of orbital angular momentum of light using a simple and elegant approach: multimode optical fiber. The resulting twisted light sources will be used to demonstrate a new class of orbital angular momentum-enabled photonics applications, including sensing and imaging. This research will result in a paradigm shift in research and application development with twisted light: away from the top-down methods of custom phase-plates and programmed spatial light modulators, and toward a bottom-up approach involving careful control of simple optical elements. This new bottom-up approach represents a dramatic shift in the tools and techniques for generating light with orbital angular momentum, a second generation of manipulation that will provide the means for a variety of twist-enabled photonics applications. New applications of the orbital angular momentum of light in sensing, super-resolution microscopy, nonlinear optics, and magnetism will also be demonstrated. The research will have high impact on a number of fields ranging from physics to engineering to materials science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS)
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Dominique M. Dagenais
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University of Denver
United States
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