Abstract

Orbital angular momentum (OAM), which describes the “phase twist” (helical phase pattern) of light beams, has recently gained interest due to its potential applications in many diverse areas. Particularly promising is the use of OAM for optical communications since: (i) coaxially propagating OAM beams with different azimuthal OAM states are mutually orthogonal, (ii) inter-beam crosstalk can be minimized, and (iii) the beams can be efficiently multiplexed and demultiplexed. As a result, multiple OAM states could be used as different carriers for multiplexing and transmitting multiple data streams, thereby potentially increasing the system capacity. In this paper, we review recent progress in OAM beam generation/detection, multiplexing/demultiplexing, and its potential applications in different scenarios including free-space optical communications, fiber-optic communications, and RF communications. Technical challenges and perspectives of OAM beams are also discussed.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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