PerspectiveAPPLIED OPTICS

Vortex generation reaches a new plateau

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Science  18 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6352, pp. 645
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan6359

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Summary

Vortices are ubiquitous wonders found in the natural world, such as the circumstellar disc, mesocyclone, and water whirlpools. Those phenomena trigger curiosity in exploring the intrinsic physics as well as man-made generation mechanisms for niche applications. Optics is thus far one of the few areas in which intensive effort is dedicated to vortex research (13), and it was discovered that an optical vortex with integer topological charge l can carry a quantized orbital angular momentum (OAM) lℏ per photon (where is Planck's constant divided by h/2π) (1). Vortex beams have opened up possible avenues of application and are actively being pursued for classical and quantum communications, particle manipulation, and high-resolution imaging (2).