We study the dynamics of a paired optical vortex (OV) generated by second-harmonic generation (SHG) using sub-picosecond pulses. By changing the position of a thin nonlinear crystal along the propagation direction, we observe a rotation of two vortices with changing separation distance. The dynamics is well explained by SHG with a beam walk-off, which introduces a contamination of zero-order Laguerre-Gaussian beam (LG0) together with topological charge doubling. The quantitative analysis indicates that the rotation angle of the OVs manifests the Gouy phase while the splitting provides the walk-off angle of the crystal. We also show that the subtraction of LG0 is realized by the superposition of LG0 with an anti-balanced phase in the pump.
©2010 Optical Society of America
Optical vortices (OVs) have been studied extensively in recent years owing to their various potential applications, such as laser trapping , spatially-resolved imaging , spectroscopy  and information processing . The OVs are associated with a series of Laguerre-Gaussian (LG) modes LG pℓ of the paraxial wave equation, where ℓ and p are integer. The index ℓ is socalled topological charge or orbital angular momentum (OAM), given by the winding number of phase on the wavefront around the vortex . The phase singularity also characterizes a null intensity of the beam cross section. Another parameter p denotes the number of nodal rings about the beam axis. In the paper, we will focus our attention on singly-ringed LG0 ℓ modes, and hereafter describe as LGℓ. Since vortices make an important role in various branches of physics, such as fluid mechanics, condensed matter physics, and astrophysics, the study of OVs provides a universal viewpoint in optical physics and thus has attracted fundamental interest as well [6, 7].
Of the various fundamental studies, the propagation/interaction dynamics induced by the superposition of the OVs with different charges (composite OVs) have been intensively investigated. In general, the superposition of coherent light fields produces a phase distribution different from that of the component fields. In the case of OVs, owing to the topological phase singularities, composite vortices show characteristic changes along with propagation, such as creation and annihilation of a vortex, attraction, repulsion and rotation of vortex pairs. Since around 1990, numerous theoretical/experimental studies have established a comprehensive framework for analyzing the composite OVs [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. One of the experimental foundations was laid in , where the authors showed that the splitting of a vortex with a charge ℓ(|ℓ| > 1) into |ℓ| vortices with a single charge is a common property and that it is reversible by superposition with a Hermite-Gaussian (HG00 ≡ LG0) beam. They also demonstrated the second-harmonic generation (SHG) with a paired single-charge OV (ℓ = 1+1) from the OV beam with ℓ = 1, suggesting the SHG formed by LG0+LG2. In principle, the OAM is transformed by SHG (in the particular case of  from a ℓ = 1 beam to a ℓ = 2 beam). Therefore the perturbation of LG0 can be attributed to the breakdown of the OAM symmetry (azimuthal symmetry) associated with the SHG process, such as beam walk-off (birefringence) in nonlinear crystals [15, 16].
In this paper, we investigate an interaction of a paired OV generated by SHG in a thin BBO (β-Barium Borate) crystal. By changing the crystal position along the propagation direction, a rotational dynamics of the paired OV including creation and collapse of pairing is observed and quantitatively analyzed. Each dynamics observed in the experiment is well reproduced by the theoretical simulation based on the beam walk-off, which produces the changes in relative amplitude and phase of the composite OVs (LG0+LG2) according to the position of the nonlinear crystal. The experiment is simple but provides an accurate evolution of the vortices without changing neither the propagation distance nor crystal length. We also demonstrate the compensation of the walk-off effect by superimposing the LG0 beam in the pump.
2. Second-harmonic vortices with a beam walk-off
In nonlinear wave-conversion/mixing, the crystal asymmetry easily breaks the azimuthal symmetry for OAM conversion. One of the major contributions is given by the walk-off of the nonlinear crystal [15, 16]. The pump depletion (back conversion from the second-harmonic beam to the fundamental beam) also plays an important role in the SHG pumped by a vortex beam . We neglect this process assuming the SHG with low conversion efficiency. In the experimental section, we will show the dynamics of a paired OV as a function of the crystal position. The purpose of this section is to see how the beam walk-off affects the relative amplitude and phase of the second-harmonic OVs according to the crystal position.
In the paper, we restrict our consideration to the case of type I phase-matching between the ordinary fundamental (o+o) and extraordinary second-harmonic(e) beams. We also assume the crystal thickness is thin enough to satisfy the weak walk-off regime. The comprehensive analysis for various phase-matching conditions can be found elsewhere .
We first introduce the basic equations of the propagating OV (corresponds to the fundamental beam in the SHG process). The polarization of the beam is linear and coincides with a principle axis of the uniaxial crystal. Within the framework of paraxial wave equation, the complex electric field of the continuous OV with a topological charge ℓ, frequency ω and wavenumber k is given by
Here we neglect the wavefront curvature. The Gouy phase ΦℓG and beam size w(z) are given by
with the beam waist w 0 and Rayleigh range zR = kw 2 0/2.
We start considering the SHG process with a walk-off . Since the walk-off breaks the azimuthal symmetry, we rewrite the factor aℓ in Cartesian coordinates as
where x + iy (x − iy) is taken for positive (negative) ℓ. From the coupled wave equations in a quadratic nonlinear crystal, the ordinary polarized fundamental and extraordinary second-harmonic field amplitudes (EF and ES) follow the equations
where α is the walk-off angle of the extraordinary second-harmonic beam, and g is the coupling coefficients. We note again that the pump depletion is neglected owing to the low conversion efficiency. Since we consider a thin crystal (thickness L), the beam size can be fixed to be constant throughout the crystal. At the center position of the crystal z′, the coupled amplitude equation becomes
We note that the envelope function of EF is given by Eq. (4). For x 1 = x − αz, we obtain
To simplify the equation, we choose the normalization of the coordinates, ξ = x/w(z′), η = y/w(z′), t = z/L and assume γ = αL/w(z′), F = (w 0/w(z′))2 ES/(gL). The second-harmonic envelope at the crystal position z′ in Eq. (7) can be transformed to
We now consider the simple case of the fundamental beams with ℓ = 1. Taking into account the assumption that the crystal is sufficiently thin, Eq. (8) gives
The latter approximation holds for |ξ|, |η| ≪ 1, which is consistent with the weak walk-off condition. F(ξ,η) = 0 results in two vortices at (ξ 0,η 0) = (γ/2,±γ/(2√3)). Here, it should be noted that, while the usual walk-off between fundamental and second-harmonic waves occur in x-direction, another type of walk-off, that is, singular-point splitting arises in y-direction. In this case, the envelope function of SHG amplitude can be described by a product of two vortices,
where s 1 = αL/2 and s 2 = αL/(2√3). The splitting of the vortices occurs in the y-direction (crystal axis) with a separation of 2s 2 = αL/√3. Equation (10) follows
showing a superposition of LG0 and LG2 with different amplitude and phase. The amplitude of the second-harmonic beam consisting of a product of two vortices thus can be transformed to a series of OVs with different charges. It should be emphasized here that a simple SHG process with a walk-off introduces a contamination of ℓ = 0 beam together with topological charge doubling. In addition, both the relative amplitude ∝ 1/w 2 and phase difference Φ2 G − Φ0 G depends on z′. As a result, we can evaluate the interaction dynamics of the paired vortex as a function of the crystal position in z-direction.
We investigate the interaction dynamics of the second-harmonic OVs generated by LG1 pump. Figure 1 (a) shows the schematic of the experimental setup. A mode-locked Ti:sapphire laser with a repetition rate of ~90 MHz and a center wavelength of ~800 nm was used for the light source. The LG1 pulse (fundamental pulse for the SHG) was created from the HG00 pulse from the laser by passing through a spatial phase shifter (SPS) and an astigmatic mode converter (AMC) . The SPS consists of two thin glass plates and inserted into the beam to create a HG10 with a relative phase shift of π between the left and right halves of the HG00 beam . The HG10 pulse is then fed to an astigmatic lens system consisting of two spherical and cylindrical lens.
Figure 1 (b) shows the CCD images of the output of AMC (left), which produces a dark-hole at the center of the beam. To check the topological charge of the pulsed beam, we also demonstrate the interferogram (right in Fig. 1 (b)) with a tilted reference HG00 pulse without delay. The fork-like fringe pattern clearly indicates the LG with a topological charge of unity (LG1) is dominant at this stage. The temporal chirp of the pulse was compensated by a pair of chirp mirrors just after the laser source. The average power of the LG1 was ~10 mW and its pulse duration evaluated by autocorrelation measurements was ~100 fs.
The LG1 was focused onto a BBO crystal (CASIX, thickness 0.1 mm) using a lens (f = 100 mm), and the output SHG with type I phase matching was detected by a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera after passing through a UV pass filter. The BBO has a large walk-off angle (~ 3.9° at 800 nm pump) , introducing an azimuthal asymmetry of the second-harmonic OV even in the thin crystal. The position of the crystal (z′) was automatically moved along the optical axis by using a motorized linear stage. The optimum focus position of the input pulse is defined as z′ = 0, and we obtained the intensity distributions of the SHG over a range between z′ = ±7.5 mm, which corresponds to z′ = ±2.3zR using a Rayleigh length of zR(=πw 2 0/λ ≈ 3.3 mm, where w 0 =29 µm at λ =800 nm). Note that zR for the fundamental and second-harmonic beams are equal since w 0 of SHG is reduced by a factor of 1/√2.
Figure 2 shows typical intensity distributions (CCD images) of the SHG at various z′. In Fig. 2 (c), there are two distinct vortices, each of which rotates as a pair together with decreasing the separation as the crystal moves away from z′ = 0 (Fig. 2 (b) and (d)), and becomes indistinguishable at |z′| > 2zR (Fig. 2 (a) and (e)). These sequential dynamics can be evaluated as trajectories of the vortices in Fig. 3 (a). Note that we detect the SHG at a fixed position, allowing to evaluate the sequential vortices with the same dimension. For simplicity, we plot the positions of the vortices normalized by the beam size of the SHG (ws). Following the same manner as the previous reports on the propagation dynamics [12, 21], we also plot the relative angle ϕv and distance rv between the two vortices as a function of the crystal position z′/zR in Fig. 3 (b) and (c). Here ϕv and rv are denoted in Fig. 1 (c), and reflect the relative phase and amplitude of the composite OVs. As shown in Fig. 3 (b), ϕv changes monotonically between −π/2 and +π/2, suggesting the Gouy phase rotation [21, 22, 23]. On the other hand, the splitting rv decreases symmetrically with respect to z′ = 0, indicating that the perturbation of LG0 is efficient at z′ = 0 and decreases as increasing |z′|. These z′-dependent splitting suggests the walk-off origin, which will be confirmed below.
We now compare the experimental data with the predictions in Sect.2. The intensity of the vortex field is I = |uS 2|2 where uS 2 is given by in Eq. (11). In the calculations, only s 2 is a variable parameter to be optimized. We used s 2 =4.1 µm, the validity of which will be discussed later. The intensity distributions of the composite OVs are shown in the upper part of Fig. 4, each of which reproduces well the paired OV dynamics in Fig. 2. In the lower part, we also plot the phase distributions in order to clarify the positions of the vortices. Within the focal region, a distinct paired vortex exists owing to the intentional contamination of LG0 ∝ 1/w 2. When moving out of focal region, the pair rotates according to the relative Gouy rotation ∆ΦG = Φ2 G − Φ0 G, and its separation decreases as LG0 decreases.
The quantitative comparisons can be realized in Fig. 5, where we re-plot the experimental data of Fig. 3. In Fig. 5 (b), the rotation angle ϕv, which reflects the relative phase described by ∆ΦG = 2tan−1 (z/zR), is consistent with the experimental data. Our simple experiment thus provides an evaluation of the the Gouy phase with a fixed detection geometry. On the other hand, the splitting rv in Fig. 5 (c) also shows good agreement with experimental results. We note that rv is determined by the ratio of the amplitude between LG0 and LG2, which is given by (s 2/w)2 in Eq. (11). From the experimental data rv at z′ = 0, s 2(= rv/2) is evaluated to be 4.1 µm. Within the assumption that the beam walk-off is weak, s 2 can be described by α′L/(2√3), where α′ is the external walk-off angle in the air which satisfies sin (α′/√3) = ne(400 nm) sin (α/√3) from the Snell’s law. In the present case, we obtained the internal walk-off angle α = 5.1°, which is almost consistent with the typical value of BBO for the type-I phase-matching (~ 3.9° at 800 nm pump) .
The analysis mentioned above successfully demonstrates that the charge splitting due to beam walk-off can be expanded into the composite OVs including LG0. Therefore we can remove the splitting by introducing LG0 (HG00) as another fundamental source. Although such cancellation of LG0 perturbation using coherent beam addition has already been reported in , we employ this technique to compensate the incomplete OAM transfer in the nonlinear conversion process. Since the imperfect OAM restricts the feasibility of OVs, the compensation demonstrated here will contribute to the practical use of the nonlinear OV applications [24, 25].
To prepare such composite OVs ( ) in the pump, the laser pulses (HG00) were splitted into two optical paths, one of which transfers HG00 to LG1 using SPS and AMC. Another path carries LG0 beam through the optical delay line, which consists of a retro-reflector mounted upon a translation stage and a mirror upon a piezoelectric transducer. The former accounts for the difference between two optical paths lengths within the pulse duration while the latter provides a fine position to determine the relative phase φp with respect to LG1. The relative amplitude between LG1 and LG0 was controlled by a neutral density filter. The second-harmonic conversion and its detection schemes are the same as in Fig. 1 (a).
The upper part of Fig. 6 shows a series of CCD images of the SHG obtained at various φp at a fixed crystal position z′ = 0. The OV pair changes its separation according to φp. A significant reduction of the splitting was observed in the anti-phase condition φp ~ π. For clarity, the SHG images obtained by introducing individual pump beams (LG1 and HG00) are shown in the lower part. It is important to note that optimization of the relative amplitude is necessary to realize the absence of splitting. In addition, the optimized amplitude varies with z′, indicating that the splitting observed in our experiment does not arise from the fundamental beam but from the SHG.
In summary, we demonstrated an interaction of a paired second-harmonic OV by changing the position of a thin nonlinear crystal (BBO) along the propagation direction. The observed rotational dynamics including creation and collapse of pairing were well reproduced by the theoretical prediction based on the beam walk-off in the crystal. The quantitative analysis indicated that the rotation angle of the paired vortex manifests the Gouy phase while the splitting provides the walk-off angle of the crystal. The analysis also mentioned that the charge splitting can be expanded into the composite OVs including LG0, the subtraction of which was experimentally realized by the superposition of LG0 with an anti-balanced phase in the fundamental beam.
This work was supported by Casio foundation, KDDI foundation, and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B), 2008–2010, No.20360025 from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
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