Optical manipulation of atoms and molecules using structured light

M Babiker, David Andrews

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The interaction of atoms and molecules with structured light, specifically laser light endowed with the property of orbital angular momentum, such as Laguerre-Gaussian light, is discussed. The primary effects of interest here are
the influence of the light on the gross motion of atoms and molecules and the possibilities this motion provides for particle manipulation in cooling, heating and trapping experiments. It turns out that, in addition to the possibility
of modifying translational motion, suitably structured light can facilitate the manipulation of rotational motion. The latter possibility arises from a light-induced torque that is directly attributable to the orbital angular momentum
property of the light. We outline the physics responsible for these effects and consider applications to typical cases in which atoms and ions are subject to near resonant Laguerre-Gaussian beams, leading to characteristic trajectories
and eventual trapping in specific regions. Details are given for optical molasses configurations based on twisted light beams arranged in one-, two- and three-dimensional counter-propagating pairs. We extend consideration to the case
of liquid crystals, subject to Laguerre-Gaussian light tuned far off-resonance, and show how this leads to the twisting of the directors in the liquid crystal, coinciding with the intensity distribution of the light.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-33
JournalAfrican Physical Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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