Symmetry and quantum features in optical vortices

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Optical vortices are beams of laser light with screw symmetry in their wavefront. With a corresponding azimuthal dependence in optical phase, they convey orbital angular momentum, and their methods of production and applications have become one of the most rapidly accelerating areas in optical physics and technology. It has been established that the quantum nature of electromagnetic radiation extends to properties conveyed by each individual photon in such beams. It is therefore of interest to identify and characterize the symmetry aspects of the quantized fields of vortex radiation that relate to the beam and become manifest in its interactions with matter. Chirality is a prominent example of one such aspect; many other facets also invite attention. Fundamental CPT symmetry is satisfied throughout the field of optics, and it plays significantly into manifestations of chirality where spatial parity is broken; duality symmetry between electric and magnetic fields is also involved in the detailed representation. From more specific considerations of spatial inversion, amongst which it emerges that the topological charge has the character of a pseudoscalar, other elements of spatial symmetry, beyond simple parity inversion, prove to repay additional scrutiny. A photon-based perspective on these features enables regard to be given to the salient quantum operators, paying heed to quantum uncertainty limits of observables. The analysis supports a persistence in features of significance for the material interactions of vortex beams, which may indicate further scope for suitably tailored experimental design.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1368
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021


  • CPT symmetry
  • Chirality
  • Helicity
  • Laguerre-gaussian
  • Optical vortex
  • Photonics
  • QED
  • Quantum optics
  • Structured light
  • Twisted light

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