Faculty Advisor

Thomas Keil

Faculty Advisor

Grover Swartzlander Jr.

Faculty Advisor

Rick Quimby


"Optical vortices are ubiquitous features of electromagnetic radiation that are often described as a destructive null in a beam of coherent light. Optical vortices may be created by a variety of different methods, one of which is by the use of a diffractive vortex mask, which is a plate of glass that has been etched in a spiral staircase pattern such that the thickness of the mask varies harmonically in the azimuthal direction. Light passing through the mask gains an azimuthal variation in phase due to the index mismatch between the glass substrate and the surrounding medium and thus an optical vortex is created. There is an implicit assumption that the light is spatially coherent, or in other words, that there is a definite phase relationship between each point in the beam. Optical vortices are not believed to occur in completely incoherent light where the term “phase” no longer holds any meaning. Optical vortices are also poorly understood in partially coherent light where statistics must be used to quantify the phase. The purpose of the research presented in this thesis was to determine how spatial coherence affects the transmission properties of the vortex phase mask. This research enabled us to create a coherence filtering technique based upon the vortex diffractive mask. In this dissertation I will demonstrate the usefulness of this filtering technique in two specific applications. First in the detection of forward-scattered light, where the un-scattered probe beam may blind a detector making detection of the scattered light extremely difficult. Second, in the enhanced resolution of two nearby objects, where the signal from one object may be lost in the glare of a brighter companion. This filtering technique has a wide field of possible applications including the detection of extra-solar planets, the detection of defects in laser optics, and improved methods in optical tomography."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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singularity, vortex, phase, diffraction, interference, nulling, singularities, coherence, dislocation, optical vortex, Vortex-motion, Coherence (Optics), Optical vortices