Abstract

Light’s orbital angular momentum (OAM) is an unbounded degree of freedom emerging in helical beams that appears very advantageous technologically. Using chiral microlasers, i.e., integrated devices that allow generating an emission carrying a net OAM, we demonstrate a regime of bistability involving two modes presenting distinct OAM (=0 and =2). Furthermore, thanks to an engineered spin-orbit coupling of light in these devices, these modes also exhibit distinct polarization patterns, i.e., circular and azimuthal polarizations. Using a dynamical model of rate equations, we show that this bistability arises from polarization-dependent saturation of the gain medium. Such a bistable regime appears very promising for implementing ultrafast optical switches based on the OAM of light. As well, it paves the way for the exploration of dynamical processes involving phase and polarization vortices.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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