, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 947-960

A simple analytical model of the angular momentum transformation in strongly focused light beams

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A ray-optics model is proposed to describe the vector beam transformation in a strongly focusing optical system. In contrast to usual approaches based on the focused field distribution near the focal plane, we use the beam pattern formed immediately after the exit aperture. In this cross section, details of the output field distribution are of minor physical interest but proper allowance is made for transformation of the beam polarization state. This enables the spin and orbital angular momentum representations to be obtained, which are valid for any cross section of the transformed beam. Simple analytical results are available for a transversely homogeneous, circularly polarized incident beam confined by a circular aperture. Variations of the spin and orbital angular momenta of the output beam with change of the focusing strength are analyzed. The analytical results are in good qualitative and reasonable quantitative agreement with the results of numerical calculations performed for the Gaussian and Laguerre-Gaussian beams. The model supplies an efficient and physically transparent means for qualitative analysis of the spin-to-orbital angular momentum conversion. It can be generalized to incident beams with complex spatial and polarization structure.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/s11534-010-0141-6