In Your Phase: All About Optical Vortices

Carlos López-Mariscal and Julio C. Gutiérrez-Vega

This primer on optical vortices describes the physics behind electromagnetic phase singularities and highlights their importance in nature, science and society.

imageA wake of vortices is formed with the onset of atmospheric turbulence as marine clouds encounter a volcanic peak in Guadalupe Island near Baja California, Mexico.

Electromagnetic wavefields exhibit a number of exciting phenomena that are inherent to their wave nature. A few well-known examples are interference, refraction and diffraction. These manifestations of light’s undulating character have been extensively studied, not only in optics, but also in the realms of acoustics, seismology and other subfields of physics.

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