A Kaleidoscopic Approach To Polarization

A novel method for adjusting and engineering the mirror symmetry of polarization in structured optical fields has been created by a research team. The team has named these polarization states kaleidoscope-structured vector optical fields (KS-VOFs) and claims that their adjustable symmetries and geometries provide an “additional degree of freedom” that may be useful in optical machining, trapping, photodetection, and microscopy applications.

The optical community has already investigated spatially variable polarization in vector optical fields (VOFs) in great detail. Furthermore, it is well known that these fields’ polarization states typically contain some form of mirror symmetry. The ability to arbitrary create and tune these symmetries in VOFs has needed to be improved, claim the authors of the new research. The discovery of such a technique would create a new control knob for modifying fields for various optical instruments.

The team used the example of a straightforward, well-known toy that excels at producing mirror symmetries to work out how to control such symmetries. The number of radially symmetric images produced by the kaleidoscope depends on the angle at which its two angled mirrors are held together, the researchers observed. To control the mirror symmetry of polarization states in a structured light field, the team pondered whether a similar parameter could be piped into a controllable element, such as a spatial light modulator (SLM).

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