Optical vortex beams: generation, propagation and applications

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Electro-Optics


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Electro-optics Graduate Program


Advisor: Qiwen Zhan


An optical vortex (also known as a screw dislocation or phase singularity) is one type of optical singularity that has a spiral phase wave front around a singularity point where the phase is undefined. Optical vortex beams have a lot of applications in areas such as optical communications, LADAR (laser detection and ranging) system, optical tweezers, optical trapping and laser beam shaping. The concepts of optical vortex beams and methods of generation are briefly discussed. The properties of optical vortex beams propagating through atmospheric turbulence have been studied. A numerical modeling is developed and validated which has been applied to study the high order properties of optical vortex beams propagating though a turbulent atmosphere. The simulation results demonstrate the advantage that vectorial vortex beams may be more stable and maintain beam integrity better when they propagate through turbulent atmosphere. As one important application of optical vortex beams, the laser beam shaping is introduced and studied. We propose and demonstrate a method to generate a 2D flat-top beam profile using the second order full Poincare beams. Its applications in two-dimensional flat-top beam shaping with spatially variant polarization under low numerical aperture focusing have been studied both theoretically and experimentally. A novel compact flat-top beam shaper based on the proposed method has been designed, fabricated and tested. Experimental results show that high quality flat-top profile can be obtained with steep edge roll-off. The tolerance to different input beam sizes of the beam shaper is also verified in the experimental demonstration. The proposed and experimentally verified LC beam shaper has the potential to become a promising candidate for compact and low-cost flat-top beam shaping in areas such as laser processing/machining, lithography and medical treatment.


Atmospheric turbulence, Vortex-motion, Laser beams Atmospheric effects, Electromagnetics; optics; flat-top; polarization; vortex beams; beam shaping

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2013, author