Optical angular momentum transfer by Laguerre-Gaussian beams

SH Simpson, S Hanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


It is well known that Laguerre-Gaussian beams carry angular momentum and that this angular momentum has a mechanical effect when such beams are incident on particles whose refractive indices differ from those of the background medium. Under conditions of tight focusing, intensity gradients arise that are sufficiently large to trap micrometer-sized particles, permitting these mechanical effects to be observed directly. In particular, when the particles are spherical and absorbing, they rotate steadily at a rate that is directly proportional to the theoretical angular momentum flux of the incident beam. We note that this behavior is peculiar to absorbing spheres. For arbitrary, axially placed particles the induced torque for rotation zeta angle is shown to be Gamma(z)=A sin(2 zeta+delta)+B, where A, B, and delta are constants that are determined by the mechanisms coupling optical and mechanical angular momentum. The resulting behavior need not be directly related to the total angular momentum in the beam but can, nonetheless, be understood in terms of an appropriate torque density. This observation is illustrated by calculations of the torque induced in optically and geometrically anisotropic particles using a T-matrix approach. (C) 2009 Optical Society of America
Translated title of the contributionOptical angular momentum transfer by Laguerre-Gaussian beams
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625 - 638
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


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