Optical Polarization Möbius Strips and Points of Purely Transverse Spin Density

Phys Rev Lett. 2016 Jul 1;117(1):013601. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.013601. Epub 2016 Jun 28.


Tightly focused light beams can exhibit complex and versatile structured electric field distributions. The local field may spin around any axis including a transverse axis perpendicular to the beams' propagation direction. At certain focal positions, the corresponding local polarization ellipse can even degenerate into a perfect circle, representing a point of circular polarization or C point. We consider the most fundamental case of a linearly polarized Gaussian beam, where-upon tight focusing-those C points created by transversely spinning fields can form the center of 3D optical polarization topologies when choosing the plane of observation appropriately. Because of the high symmetry of the focal field, these polarization topologies exhibit nontrivial structures similar to Möbius strips. We use a direct physical measure to find C points with an arbitrarily oriented spinning axis of the electric field and experimentally investigate the fully three-dimensional polarization topologies surrounding these C points by exploiting an amplitude and phase reconstruction technique.