We describe how the propagation of light through uniaxial crystals can be used as a versatile tool towards the spatial engineering of polarization and phase, thereby providing an all-optical technique for vectorial and scalar singular beam shaping in optics. Besides the prominent role played by the linear birefringence, the influence of circular birefringence (the optical activity) is discussed as well and both the monochromatic and polychromatic singular beam shaping strategies are addressed. Under cylindrically symmetric light-matter interaction, the radially, azimuthally, and spirally polarized eigen-modes for the light field are revealed to be of a fundamental interest to describe the physical mechanisms at work when dealing with scalar and vectorial optical singularities. In addition, we also report on nontrivial effects arising from cylindrical symmetry breaking, e.g. tilting the incident beam with respect to the crystal optical axis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics