Quantum Field Theory for Angular Momentum of Light

Quantum sensing of photonic spin density using a single spin qubit

Nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers in diamond have emerged as promising room temperature quantum sensors for probing condensed matter phenomena ranging from spin liquids, 2D magnetic materials, and magnons to hydrodynamic flow of current. Here, we propose and demonstrate that the nitrogen-vacancy center in a diamond can be used as a quantum sensor for detecting the photonic spin density. We exploit a single spin qubit on an atomic force microscope tip to probe the spinning field of an incident Gaussian light beam. The spinning field of light induces an effective static magnetic field in the single spin qubit probe. We perform room-temperature sensing using Bloch sphere operations driven by a microwave field (XY8 protocol). This nanoscale quantum magnetometer can measure the local polarization of light in ultra-subwavelength volumes. We also put forth a rigorous theory of the experimentally measured phase change using the NV center Hamiltonian and perturbation theory involving only virtual photon transitions. The direct detection of the photonic spin density at the nanoscale using NV centers in diamond opens interesting quantum metrological avenues for studying exotic phases of photons, nanoscale properties of structured light as well as future on-chip applications in spin quantum electrodynamics (sQED).

Kalhor, Farid, Li-Ping Yang, Leif Bauer, and Zubin Jacob. "Quantum sensing of photonic spin density." arXiv preprint arXiv:2102.11373 (2021).

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.

Van Mechelen, Todd, and Zubin Jacob. "Universal spin-momentum locking of evanescent waves." Optica 3, no. 2 (2016): 118-126.