Scattering of Twisted Light by Chiral Particles


Twisted light is a new form of light with a helical vortex structure of its wave front. How does twisted light interact with 3D chiral structures like a helix? Despite of the abundant presence of helical structures in nature the answer is yet largely unknown. Since all fundamental interactions are governed by symmetries, and the symmetries of helical material structures are very similar to those of twisted light, twisted light has great potential to become the tool of choice to study chiral structures, in particular if their size is of the order of an optical wavelength, say 100 nm - 10 µm. Twisted light scattering by such micro-helices is completely unexplored; at the scale of these particles the orbital and spin angular momenta of light are inseparable so that only the total angular momentum is conserved. My aim is to explore this almost completely uncharted field by optical scattering experiments and numerical studies. The vision is to develop this into a new method for bio-microscopy. Chiral structures are omni-present in biological tissue from DNA to collagen, and this new method has the potential to greatly improve their imaging contrast: Twisted-light scattering microscopy.


Scientific article

  • D J Broer, J P Woerdman, G Nienhuis, G W 't Hooft, M P van Exter, W Löffler(2011): Search for Hermite-Gauss mode rotation in cholesteric liquid crystals Opt. Express pp. 12978 - 12983
  • W Löffler, H Woerdman, D J Broer(2011): Circular dichroism of cholesteric polymers and the orbital angular momentum of light Phys. Rev. A pp. 065801 - 065803
  • H Woerdman, E R Eliel, T G Euser, M Scharrer, W Löffler, P Russell(2011): Fiber Transport of Spatially Entangled Photons Phys. Rev. Lett. pp. 240505 - 240508
  • W Löffler, A Aiello, J P Woerdman(2012): Spatial Coherence and Optical Beam Shifts Phys. Rev. Lett. pp. 213901 - 213905
  • W Löffler, A Aiello, J P Woerdman(2012): Observation of OAM sidebands due to optical reflection Phys. Rev. Lett. pp. 113602-+5
  • V Salakhutdinov, E R Eliel, W Löffler(2012): Full-Field Quantum Correlations of Spatially Entangled Photons Phys. Rev. Lett. pp. 173604-+5
  • F Ricci, W Löffler, M P van Exter(2012): Instability of higher-order optical vortices analyzed with a multi-pinhole interferometer Optics Express pp. 22961 - 22975
  • B C Hiesmayr, W Löffler(2013): Complementarity reveals bound entanglement of two twisted photons New Journal of Physics pp. 083036 - 083051
  • J B Götte, M Hentschel, W Löffler(2013): Beyond catoptrics Journal of Optics pp. 010301 - 010303
  • D Geelen, W Löffler(2013): Walsh modes and radial quantum correlations of spatially entangled photons Optics Letters pp. 4108 - 4112
  • W Löffler, N Hermosa, A Aiello, J P Woerdman(2013): Total internal reflection of orbital angular momentum beams Journal of Optics pp. 014012 - 014016

Publication meant for a broad audience

Publications for the general public

  • W Löffler(2011): Beam shifts
  • W Löffler(2012): Guest editor Journal of Optics for a special issue on 'beam shifts'


Project number


Main applicant

Dr. W. Löffler

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen, Leids Instituut voor Onderzoek in de Natuurkunde (LION)

Team members

Dr. W. Löffler


01/10/2010 to 24/04/2014