Abstract

Liquid-crystal spiral phase plates with cell gaps of 7 and 20 μm have been used to generate doughnut-shaped beams (doughnut beams) with charges of 1 and 4, respectively. Stacking these liquid-crystal spiral phase plates yielded doughnut beams with charge numbers up to 8. High efficiency and flexibility are the advantages of generating doughnut beams by stacking liquid-crystal spiral phase plates. Interference of doughnut beams generated by liquid-crystal spiral phase plates and plane waves has been studied. Fingerlike interference patterns were obtained with a doughnut beam tilted from a Gaussian beam; spiral fanlike patterns were obtained with a doughnut beam and a Gaussian beam collimated coaxially. The experimental results are supported qualitatively by simulation. By rotating a glass slide in the path of the Gaussian beam, one can rotate the fanlike interference pattern in a controlled fashion. With the liquid-crystal display technology that we have developed and report here, these liquid-crystal spiral phase plates should find applications in optical tweezers.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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