Abstract

When light is transmitted through optically inhomogeneous and anisotropic media the spatial distribution of light can be modified according to its input polarization state. A complete analysis of this process, based on the paraxial approximation, is presented, and we show how it can be exploited to produce a spin-controlled change in the orbital angular momentum of light beams propagating in patterned space-variant optical axis phase plates. We also unveil a new effect: the development of a strong modulation in the angular momentum change upon variation of the optical path through the phase plates.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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