Optomechanical measurement of photon spin angular momentum and optical torque in integrated photonic devices

Science Advances  09 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1600485
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1600485

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Photons carry linear momentum and spin angular momentum when circularly or elliptically polarized. During light-matter interaction, transfer of linear momentum leads to optical forces, whereas transfer of angular momentum induces optical torque. Optical forces including radiation pressure and gradient forces have long been used in optical tweezers and laser cooling. In nanophotonic devices, optical forces can be significantly enhanced, leading to unprecedented optomechanical effects in both classical and quantum regimes. In contrast, to date, the angular momentum of light and the optical torque effect have only been used in optical tweezers but remain unexplored in integrated photonics. We demonstrate the measurement of the spin angular momentum of photons propagating in a birefringent waveguide and the use of optical torque to actuate rotational motion of an optomechanical device. We show that the sign and magnitude of the optical torque are determined by the photon polarization states that are synthesized on the chip. Our study reveals the mechanical effect of photon’s polarization degree of freedom and demonstrates its control in integrated photonic devices. Exploiting optical torque and optomechanical interaction with photon angular momentum can lead to torsional cavity optomechanics and optomechanical photon spin-orbit coupling, as well as applications such as optomechanical gyroscopes and torsional magnetometry.

  • Nano-optomechanics
  • nano-optomechanical systems
  • photon spin angular momentum
  • photon polarization state
  • optical torque
  • optical force
  • integrated photonic device
  • integrated photonic waveguide

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