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Multi-wavelength Q-plate Arithmetic in an All-Liquid-Crystal Modular Setup
preprintposted on 2023-05-30, 16:00 authored by Jacek Piłka, Michał Kwaśny, Magdalena Czerniewicz, Mirosław Karpierz, Urszula Laudyn
Vortex beams are a type of structured light characterized by phase rotation around the propagation axis, resulting in orbital angular momentum. Their properties make them useful in various applications such as high-resolution microscopy, optical tweezing, and telecommunications. This has led to a comprehensive development of methods for their generation, ranging from using single-purpose glass elements to utilizing computer-generated holograms using spatial light modulators. One of the most commonly used elements for vortex transformation is a vortex half-wave retarder called a q-plate, which can transform a Gaussian beam into a scalar vortex or vector beam depending on the input polarization. Although the commercially available ones are limited in the range of possible output topological charges, they can be stacked to perform arithmetic operations to expand them. However, changing the output or working wavelength requires rearranging the elements. We present an improvement to this method that solves these problems by introducing Q-modules, easy-to-fabricate, electrically tunable liquid crystal devices that combine the features of q-plates and half-wave plates and can be used as building blocks in modular assemblies. Electrical tuning makes it possible to change the working wavelength as well as the topological output charge or polarization order without the need to interact mechanically with the setup.