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Probing the limits of vortex mode generation and detection with spatial light modulators

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posted on 2023-11-30, 20:34 authored by Jonathan Pinnell, Valeria Rodriguez-Fajardo, Andrew Forbes
Spatial light modulators (SLMs) are popular tools for generating structured light fields and have fostered numerous applications in optics and photonics. Here, we explore the limits of what fields these devices are capable of generating and detecting in the context of so-called vortex beams carrying orbital angular momentum (OAM). Our main contributions are to quantify (theoretically and experimentally) how the pixelation of the SLM screen affects the quality of the generated vortex mode and to offer useful heuristics on how to optimise the performance of the displayed digital hologram. In so doing, we successfully generate and detect a very high order optical vortex mode with topological charge $\ell = 600$, the highest achieved to date using SLMs. Since the OAM degree of freedom is frequently touted as offering a potentially unbounded state space, we hope that this work will inspire researchers to make more use of higher order vortex modes.

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