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Quantum Science with Optical Vortices

Mark Siemens

The discovery of “twisted light” with orbital angular momentum (OAM) has generated a lot of excitement because of the potential applications, especially for using the discrete OAM basis to increase bandwidth for communications. We are extending this concept to study the vortices that carry this quantized angular momentum as objects that interact in a two dimensional fluid — formally analogous to traditional quantum fluids like Bose-Einstein Condensates and superfluid Helium.

We are interested in fundamental questions related to the quantum science of these vortices, including:

1. Can we treat optical vortices as quasiparticles? Do vortices interact?

2. Can we use turbulence in a laser beam, which is characterized by vortices, as a model for turbulence in quantum fluids?

3. Can vortices be controllably braided? Can we measure and control the geometric phase of vortices? 

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