Abstract

This study demonstrates a self-referenced interferometric method to estimate the magnitude and sign of a high-order topological charge (TC) carried by incoming optical vortex beams. The proposed method uses a right-angle prism in a Mach–Zehnder interferometer setup with controlled lateral shift and tilt between the wavefronts of interfering beams. The in-line interference with its conjugate results in a petal-shaped fringe pattern, where the number of petals reveals the magnitude of the TC. When the direction of one of the interfering beams is laterally displaced and rotated to emerge at a small angle for off-axis interference such that the vortices overlap at the output plane, then a fork-like interference pattern with better visibility is obtained, which can be used for estimating the magnitude as well as the sign of the TC. Through numerical simulation and optical experiment, it is shown that the technique is capable of estimating the TC of Laguerre–Gaussian beams even with a nonzero radial index.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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