Spin-orbit coupling of light for polarization controlled nano-optics

Spin-orbit coupling of light describes how spin angular momentum of light (associated with circular/elliptical polarization of the electric field) is coupled to orbital angular momentum of light (associated with the energy flow and propagation direction). I will focus on a specific example of “spin orbit coupling” related to electromagnetic evanescent waves: the polarization of such waves is elliptically polarized, with a spin that is directed transverse to the propagation direction, and the sense of rotation of the polarization is directly related to the direction of propagation of the wave – this allows controlling the propagation direction simply by tuning the polarization of a localized source. This effect is very fundamental, broadband, and robust to imperfections. I will describe different experiments which we carried out to test this effect and its reciprocal version.

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