Journal article Open Access

Introducing Berry phase gradients along the optical path via propagation-dependent polarization transformations

Michele Tamagnone; Michele Tamagnone; Noah A. Rubin; Aun Zaidi; Federico Capasso; Ahmed H. Dorrah

Abstract As a classical or quantum system undergoes a cyclic evolution governed by slow change in its parameter space, it acquires a topological phase factor known as the geometric or Berry phase. One popular manifestation of this phenomenon is the Gouy phase which arises when the radius of curvature of the wavefront changes adiabatically in a cyclic manner, for e.g., when focused by a lens. Here, we report on a new manifestation of the Berry phase in 3D structured light which arises when its polarization state adiabatically evolves along the optical path. We show that such a peculiar evolution of angular momentum, which occurs under free space propagation, is accompanied by an accumulated phase shift that elegantly coincides with Berry's prediction. Unlike the conventional dynamic phase, which accumulates monotonically with propagation, the Berry phase observed here can be engineered on demand, thereby enabling new possibilities; such as spin-dependent spatial frequency shifts, and modified phase matching in resonators and nonlinear interactions. Our findings expand the laws of wave propagation and can be applied in optics and beyond.

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