The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 35-47

First online:

Experiments with twisted light

Some of the mechanical and quantum-mechanical properties of optical vortices
  • J. CourtialAffiliated withDepartment of Physics & Astronomy, University of Glasgow Email author 
  • , K. O'HolleranAffiliated withDepartment of Physics & Astronomy, University of Glasgow

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The generic – that is, stable under perturbations – nodes of the field in a monochromatic light beam are optical vortices. We describe here their connection to Chladni's nodal lines in the oscillations of metal plates, as well as a few experiments that have been performed with optical vortices. We will describe how optical vortices can be generated experimentally; how it can be shown that they possess orbital angular momentum; how individual photons can be sorted according to their vortex state; and how optical vortices can be used to demonstrate higher-dimensional quantum entanglement.