Abstract

While photons travel in a straight line at constant velocity in free space, the intensity profile of structured light may be tailored for acceleration in any degree of freedom. Here we propose a simple approach to control the angular acceleration of light. Using Laguerre–Gaussian modes as our twisted beams carrying orbital angular momentum, we show that superpositions of opposite handedness result in a radially dependent angular acceleration as they pass through a focus (waist plane). Due to conservation of orbital angular momentum, we find that propagation dynamics are complex despite the free-space medium: the outer part of the beam (rings) rotates in an opposite direction to the inner part (petals), and while the outer part accelerates, the inner part decelerates. We outline the concepts theoretically and confirm them experimentally. Such exotic structured light beams are topical due to their many applications, for instance in optical trapping and tweezing, metrology, and fundamental studies in optics.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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Supplementary Material (1)

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» Visualization 1: AVI (197 KB)      Animation of the experimentally generated intensity profile of free-space propagating LG modes with angular acceleration.

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