When Light Turns One-Sided and Single-Edged

04.02.2015, 12:00

Experimental Observation of Optical Polarization Möbius Strips

Light is a fascinating ‘playground’, which is amazingly rich, especially if its polarization is taken into account. When light is highly confined, for instance, by tight focusing, the polarization can form three-dimensional, spatially varying landscapes leading to complex phase and field distributions as well as extraordinary topologies. One of these 3D topologies might resemble a Möbius strip – a geometrical object that has only one side and one boundary.

Proposed theoretically for intersecting collimated light beams about a decade ago by I. Freund, we now succeeded in experimentally proving the existence of these highly unusual objects for the first time. We created optical polarization Möbius strips in the lab by focusing a superposition of two light beams tightly. Utilizing a recently developed coherent nano-probing approach, we were able to measure the distribution of the electric field in the focal plane with deep sub-wavelength spatial resolution. By retrieving the local polarization ellipses from the electric field information, we unveiled the hidden Möbius strips formed by the ellipse axes.

 

Contact: Peter Banzer

Group: InMik group, Leuchs Division

Reference: T. Bauer, P. Banzer, E. Karimi, S. Orlov, A. Rubano, L. Marrucci, E. Santamato, R. W. Boyd, G. Leuchs, Observation of optical polarization Möbius strips, Science, doi:10.1126/science.1260635

 

Link Max Planck Society