Research ArticleOPTICS

Catenary optics for achromatic generation of perfect optical angular momentum

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Science Advances  02 Oct 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 9, e1500396
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500396

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The catenary is the curve that a free-hanging chain assumes under its own weight, and thought to be a “true mathematical and mechanical form” in architecture by Robert Hooke in the 1670s, with nevertheless no significant phenomena observed in optics. We show that the optical catenary can serve as a unique building block of metasurfaces to produce continuous and linear phase shift covering [0, 2π], a mission that is extremely difficult if not impossible for state-of-the-art technology. Via catenary arrays, planar optical devices are designed and experimentally characterized to generate various kinds of beams carrying orbital angular momentum (OAM). These devices can operate in an ultra-broadband spectrum because the anisotropic modes associated with the spin-orbit interaction are almost independent of the incident light frequency. By combining the optical and topological characteristics, our approach would allow the complete control of photons within a single nanometric layer.

  • metasurface
  • orbital angular momentum
  • nanostructure
  • spin angular momentum
  • geometric phase
  • phase modulation

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