Spin and orbital angular momenta of electromagnetic waves in free space

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We derive exact expressions, in the form of Fourier integrals over the (k,ω) domain, for the energy, momentum, and angular momentum of a light pulse propagating in free space. The angular momentum is seen to split naturally into two parts. The spin contribution of each plane-wave constituent of the pulse, representing the difference between its right- and left-circular polarization content, is aligned with the corresponding k-vector. In contrast, the orbital angular momentum associated with each plane-wave is orthogonal to its k-vector. In general, the orbital angular momentum content of the wavepacket is the sum of an intrinsic part, due, for example, to phase vorticity, and an extrinsic part, rCM × p, produced by the linear motion of the center-of-mass rCM of the light pulse in the direction of its linear momentum p.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number033838
JournalPhysical Review A
Volume84
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 20 2011

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electromagnetic radiation
angular momentum
orbitals
momentum
plane waves
pulses
circular polarization
vorticity
center of mass
kinetic energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

Cite this

Spin and orbital angular momenta of electromagnetic waves in free space. / Mansuripur, Masud.

In: Physical Review A, Vol. 84, No. 3, 033838, 20.09.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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