Abstract

We demonstrate that a |q|=1/2 plate, in conjunction with appropriate polarization optics, can selectively and switchably excite all linear combinations of the first radial mode order |l|=1 orbital angular momentum (OAM) fiber modes. This enables full mapping of free-space polarization states onto fiber vector modes, including the radially (TM) and azimuthally polarized (TE) modes. The setup requires few optical components and can yield mode purities as high as 30dB. Additionally, just as a conventional fiber polarization controller creates arbitrary elliptical polarization states to counteract fiber birefringence and yield desired polarizations at the output of a single-mode fiber, q-plates disentangle degenerate state mixing effects between fiber OAM states to yield pure states, even after long-length fiber propagation. We thus demonstrate the ability to switch dynamically, potentially at GHz rates, between OAM modes, or create desired linear combinations of them. We envision applications in fiber-based lasers employing vector or OAM mode outputs, as well as communications networking schemes exploiting spatial modes for higher dimensional encoding.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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