Abstract

We present an optical scheme to encode and decode 2bits of information into different orbital angular momentum (OAM) states of a paraxial optical beam. Our device generates the four light angular momentum states of order ±2 and ±4 by spin-to-orbital angular momentum conversion in a triangular optical loop arrangement. The switching among the four OAM states is obtained by changing the polarization state of the circulating beam by two quarter-wave plates, and the 2bit information is transferred to the beam OAM exploiting a single q plate. The polarization of the exit beam is left free for an additional 1bit of information. The switching among the different OAM states can be as fast as a few nanoseconds, if suitable electro-optical cells are used. This may be particularly useful in communication systems based on light OAM.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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