We show that a class of vector vortex beams possesses a topological property that derives both from the spatially varying amplitude of the field and its varying polarization. This property arises as a consequence of the inherent skyrmionic nature of such beams and is quantified by the associated skyrmion number. We illustrate this idea for some of the simplest vector beams and discuss the physical significance of the skyrmion number in this context.
Locally conserved quantities of the electromagnetic field in lossless chiral media are derived from Noether's theorem, including helicity, chirality, momentum, and angular momentum, as well as the separate spin and orbital components of this last quantity. We discuss sources and sinks of each in the presence of current densities within the material, and in some cases, as also generated by inhomogeneity of the medium. A previously obtained result connecting sources of helicity and energy within chiral materials is explored, revealing that association between the two quantities is not restricted to chiral media alone. Rather, it is analogous to the connection between the momentum, and the spin and orbital components of the total angular momentum. The analysis reveals a new quantity, appearing as the "orbital" counterpart of the helicity density in classical electromagnetism.
We present details on how the newly introduced technique of chiral rotational spectroscopy can be used to extract orientated information from otherwise freely rotating molecules in the gas phase. In this technique circularly polarized light is used to illuminate chiral molecules and shift their rotational levels to yield orientated chiroptical information via their rotational spectrum. This enables in particular the determination of the individual, physically relevant components of the orientated optical activity pseudotensor. Using the explicit example of (S)-propylene glycol we show how measuring the rotational spectrum of molecules in the microwave domain allows for the recording of a small set of rotational transitions from which the individual polarizability components can be determined.
Imaging technologies working at very low light levels acquire data by attempting to count the number of photons impinging on each pixel. Especially in cases with, on average, less than one photocount per pixel the resulting images are heavily corrupted by Poissonian noise and a host of successful algorithms trying to reconstruct the original image from this noisy data have been developed. Here we review a recently proposed scheme that complements these algorithms by calculating the full probability distribution for the local intensity distribution behind the noisy photocount measurements. Such a probabilistic treatment opens the way to hypothesis testing and confidence levels for conclusions drawn from image analysis.
The linear Doppler shift forms the basis of various sensor types for the measurement of linear velocity, ranging from speeding cars to fluid flow. Recently, a rotational analogue was demonstrated, enabling the measurement of angular velocity using light carrying orbital angular momentum (OAM). If measurement of the light scattered from a spinning object is restricted to a defined OAM state, then a frequency shift is observed that scales with the rotation rate of the object and the OAM of the scattered photon. In this work we measure the rotational Doppler shift from micron-sized calcite particles spinning in an optical trap at tens of Hz. In this case the signal is complicated by the geometry of the rotating particle, and the effect of Brownian motion. By careful consideration of these influences, we show how the signal is robust to both, representing a new technique with which to probe the rotational motion of micro-scale particles.
The information carried by a photon can be encoded in one or more of many different degrees of freedom. Beyond the two-dimensional space of polarisation (spin angular momentum) our interest lies in the unbounded yet discrete state space of Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM). We examine how photon pairs can be generated and measured over a large range of OAM states.
The bandwidth of any communication system, classical or quantum, is limited by the number of orthogonal states in which the information can be encoded. Quantum key distribution systems available commercially rely on the two-dimensional polarisation state of photons. Quantum computation has also been largely designed on the basis of qubits. However, a photon is endowed with other degrees of freedom, such as orbital angular momentum (OAM). OAM is an attractive basis to be used for quantum information because it is discrete and theoretically infinite-dimensional. This promises a higher information capacity per photon which can lead to more complex quantum computation protocols and more security and robustness for quantum cryptography. Entanglement of OAM naturally arises from spontaneous parametric down-conversion (SPDC). However, any practical experiment utilising the innately high-dimensional entanglement of the orbital angular momentum (OAM) state space of photons is subject to the modal capacity of the detection system. Only a finite subset of this space is accessible experimentally. Given such a constraint, we show that the number of measured, entangled OAM modes in photon pairs generated by SPDC can be increased by tuning the phase-matching conditions in the SPDC process. We achieve this by tuning the orientation angle of the nonlinear crystal generating the entangled photons.
Quantum cryptography was designed to provide a new approach to the problem of distributing keys for private-key
cryptography. The principal idea is that security can be ensured by exploiting the laws of quantum physics and, in
particular, by the fact that any attempt to measure a quantum state will change it uncontrollably. This change can be
detected by the legitimate users of the communication channel and so reveal to them the presence of an eavesdropper. In this paper I explain (briefly) how quantum key distribution works and some of the progress that has been made towards making this a viable technology. With the principles of quantum communication and quantum key distribution firmly established, it is perhaps time to consider how efficient it can be made. It is interesting to ask, in particular, how many bits of information might reasonably be encoded securely on each photon. The use of photons entangled in their time of arrival might make it possible to achieve data rates in excess of 10 bits per photon.
We have developed a new approach to measuring the spatial position of a single photon. Using fibers of different
length, all connected to a single detector allows us to use the high timing precision of single photon avalanche diodes
(SPAD) to spatially locate the photon. We have built two 8-element detector arrays to measure the full-field quantum
correlations in position, momentum and intermediate bases for photon pairs produced in parametric down conversion.
The strength of the position-momentum correlations is found to be an order of magnitude below the classical limit.
We report a violation of the CHSH inequality for ghost-images. This is achieved by using two spatially separated
phase modulators within the context of a two-photon parametric down-conversion experiment. We obtain edge
enhanced images as a direct consequence of the quantum correlations in the orbital angular momentum (OAM)
of the down-converted photon pairs. For phase objects, with differently orientated edges, we show a violation of
the CHSH Bell-type inequality for an OAM subspace, thereby unambiguously revealing the quantum nature of
our ghost-imaging arrangement.
In the 1970s, Jones demonstrated a photon drag by showing that the translation of a window caused a slight displacement
of a transmitted light beam. Similarly he showed that a spinning medium slightly rotated the polarization state. Rather
than translating the medium, the speed of which is limited by mechanical considerations, we translate the image and
measure its lateral delay with respect to a similar image that has not passed through the window. The equivalence, or
lack of it, of the two frames is subtle and great care needs to be taken in determining whether or not similar results are to
Laguerre-Gaussian (LG) light beams possess discrete values of orbital angular momentum (OAM) of l&barh; per photon, where l is the azimuthal index of the mode. In principle l can take on any integer number, resulting in an unlimited amount of information that can be carried by any part of the beam - even a single photon. We have developed a technology demonstrator that uses OAM to encode information onto a light beam for free-space optical communications. In our demonstrator units both the encoding and decoding of the orbital angular momentum states is achieved using diffractive optical components (holograms). We use 9 different OAM values; one value is used for alignment purposes, the others carry data.
We present an extension of the projection synthesis technique which allows, at least in principle, the determination of the probability distribution of any physical observable of a quantized optical field mode. This involves directly measuring a quantity proportional to the squared modulus of the projection of an input pure state onto the eigenstate associated with the observable to be measured. It is found that we need to synthesize a specific reference state conditioned upon the property under investigation. A general expression for these reference states is given. We provide the specific reference states needed to synthesize a measurement of canonical phase. A variant on homodyne detection is investigated using projection synthesis and we form the probability operator measure (POM) required to characterize the measurement. The POM is not that which is formed in conventional balanced homodyne detection. As an application, we utilize these results to form the POM and a quasi probability distribution function associated with a measurement scheme used to distinguish between nonorthogonal coherent states.
The Hermitian optical phase operator realises Dirac's conception of a phase, conjugate to the photon number for a mode of the electromagnetic field. However, much confusion has resulted from the failure to recognise that the single word "phase" is used to describe distinct concepts in the description of a quantised electromagnetic field mode. We compare and contrast these distinct phase concepts.