Spin-orbit interaction of light induced by transverse spin angular momentum engineering

Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 2;9(1):926. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03237-5.


The investigations on optical angular momenta and their interactions have broadened our knowledge of light's behavior at sub-wavelength scales. Recent studies further unveil the extraordinary characteristics of transverse spin angular momentum in confined light fields and orbital angular momentum in optical vortices. Here we demonstrate a direct interaction between these two intrinsic quantities of light. By engineering the transverse spin in the evanescent wave of a whispering-gallery-mode-based optical vortex emitter, a spin-orbit interaction is observed in generated vortex beams. Inversely, this unconventional spin-orbit interplay further gives rise to an enhanced spin-direction locking effect in which waveguide modes are unidirectionally excited, with the directionality jointly controlled by the spin and orbital angular momenta states of light. The identification of this previously unknown pathway between the polarization and spatial degrees of freedom of light enriches the spin-orbit interaction phenomena, and can enable various functionalities in applications such as communications and quantum information processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't