Abstract

Umbilic points—singular points of curvature characterized by a fractional topological charge q=±12—are the most numerous of all special points in the landscape of random optical fields (speckle patterns), outnumbering maxima, minima, saddle points, and optical vortices. To the best of our knowledge, we present the first experimental evidence that positive and negative umbilic points screen one another. Theory predicts that in the absence of screening the charge variance in a bounded region is proportional to the area of the region, whereas in the presence of screening the variance is drastically reduced and is proportional to the perimeter. Our data confirm this latter prediction and provide the first estimates of the screening lengths for umbilic points of the intensity and of the amplitude (field modulus).

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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