Abstract

Polarization singularities are shown to be unavoidable features of three-dimensional optical lattices. These singularities take the form of lines of circular polarization, C lines, and lines of linear polarization, L lines. The polarization figures surrounding a C line (L line) rotate about the line with winding number ±1/2 (±1). C and L lines permeate the lattice, meander throughout the unit cell, and form closed loops. Surprisingly, every point in a linearly polarized optical lattice is found to be a singularity about which the surrounding polarization vectors rotate with an integer winding number.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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