Universal Spin-Momentum Locking




Universal spin-momentum locking of evanescent waves

We show the existence of an inherent property of evanescent electromagnetic waves: spin-momentum locking, where the direction of momentum fundamentally locks the polarization of the wave. We trace the ultimate origin of this phenomenon to complex dispersion and causality requirements on evanescent waves. We demonstrate that every case of evanescent waves in total internal reflection (TIR), surface states, and optical fibers/waveguides possesses this intrinsic spin-momentum locking. We also introduce a universal right-handed triplet consisting of momentum, decay, and spin for evanescent waves. We derive the Stokes parameters for evanescent waves, which reveal an intriguing result—every fast decaying evanescent wave is inherently circularly polarized with its handedness tied to the direction of propagation. We also show the existence of a fundamental angle associated with TIR such that propagating waves locally inherit perfect circular polarized characteristics from the evanescent wave. This circular TIR condition occurs if and only if the ratio of permittivities of the two dielectric media exceeds the golden ratio. Our work leads to a unified understanding of this spin-momentum locking in various nanophotonic experiments and sheds light on the electromagnetic analogy with the quantum spin-Hall state for electrons.




Universal spin-momentum locked optical forces

Evanescent electromagnetic waves possess spin-momentum locking, where the direction of propagation (momentum) is locked to the inherent polarization of the wave (transverse spin). We study the optical forces arising from this universal phenomenon and show that the fundamental origin of recently reported non-trivial optical chiral forces is spin-momentum locking. For evanescent waves, we show that the direction of energy flow, the direction of decay, and the direction of spin follow a right hand rule for three different cases of total internal reflection, surface plasmon polaritons, and HE11 mode of an optical fiber. Furthermore, we explain how the recently reported phenomena of lateral optical force on chiral and achiral particles are caused by the transverse spin of the evanescent field and the spin-momentum locking phenomenon. Finally, we propose an experiment to identify the unique lateral forces arising from the transverse spin in the optical fiber and point to fundamental differences of the spin density from the well-known orbital angular momentum of light. Our work presents a unified view on spin-momentum locking and how it affects optical forces on chiral and achiral particles.




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Spin photonic forces in non-reciprocal waveguides




Optical forces acting on particles - controlled by the intensity, polarization and direction of optical beams - have become an important tool in manipulation, sorting and analysis of nano/micro-particles. The nature of these forces has been well understood in reciprocal structures exhibiting time-reversal symmetries. Here, we investigate the nature of optical forces in non-reciprocal structures with non-degenerate counter-propagating modes. We consider the specific case of non-reciprocity induced via translational motion and show that the two counter-propagating modes in a moving slab-waveguide are not degenerate which results in a non-zero lateral and longitudinal force on a nanoparticle. We prove that these anomalous forces are fundamentally connected to near-field photonic spin in optical waveguides and explain their directionality using universal spin-momentum locking of evanescent waves. The presented results show that the interplay of photon spin and non-reciprocity can lead to unique avenues of controlling nanoscale optical forces on-chip.




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Spin photonics in 3D whispering gallery mode resonators


Whispering gallery modes are known for possessing orbital angular momentum, however the interplay of local spin density, orbital angular momentum, and the near-field interaction with quantum emitters is far less explored. Here, we study the spin-orbit interaction of a circularly polarized dipole with the whispering gallery modes (WGMs) of a spherical resonator. Using an exact dyadic Green’s function approach, we show that the near-field interaction between the photonic spin of a circularly polarized dipole and the local electromagnetic spin density of whispering gallery modes gives rise to unidirectional behaviour where modes with either positive or negative orbital angular momentum are excited. We show that this is a manifestation of spin-momentum locking with the whispering gallery modes of the spherical resonator. We also discuss requirements for possible experimental demonstrations using Zeeman transitions in cold atoms or quantum dots, and outline potential applications of these previously overlooked properties. Our work firmly establishes local spin density, momentum and decay as a universal right-handed electromagnetic triplet for near-field light-matter interaction.


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