Two-dimensional spatial light modulators have been employed to create static and dynamic phase masks for embedding multiple vortices and exotic intensity-void structures in laser beams. A variety of patterns of singularities, producing dark longitudinal and transverse intensity channels, have been created. The uniformity, quality, and suitability of these patterns as elements for atom optics (e.g., atom-tunnel beam splitters) have been studied as a function of the phase quantization level and spatial resolution of the phase mask. Specifically, we show that (1) high-quality modes, those that propagate long distances and can be focused, can be generated when the number of phase steps between 0 and on the phase mask exceed four and (2) atom confinement increases with the charge of the vortex.
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