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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Sep 4;103(10):103903. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Optical vortices from liquid crystal droplets.

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Centre de Physique Moléculaire Optique et Hertzienne, CNRS, Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence cedex, France.


We report on the generation of mono- and polychromatic optical phase singularities from micron-sized birefringent droplets. This is done experimentally by using liquid crystal droplets whose three dimensional architecture of the optical axis is controlled within the bulk by surfactant agents. Because of its microscopic size these optical vortex generators are optically trapped and manipulated at will, thus realizing a robust self-aligned micro-optical device for orbital angular momentum conversion. Experimental observations are supported by a simple model of optical spin-orbit coupling in uniaxial dielectrics that emphasizes the prominent role of the transverse optical anisotropy with respect to the beam propagation direction.

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