Bob Boyd Colloquium

Grand Amphitheatre, Ecole de Physique, 24 Quai Ansermat, 1205 Genève

This presentation first reviews the historical development of the field of nonlinear optics, starting from its inception in 1961. It then reviews some of its more recent developments, including especially how nonlinear optics has become a crucial tool for the developing field of quantum technologies. Fundamental quantum processes enabled by nonlinear optics, such as the creation of squeezed and entangled light states, are reviewed. We then illustrate these concepts by means of specific applications, such as the development of secure communication systems based on the quantum states of light. We are also interested in studying the properties of structured light fields. These structured light beams have recently been shown to possess exotic properties of their own, such as vacuum propagation velocities differing from the light velocity c for plane waves. These beams can also be tailored in such a way that they carry orbital angular momentum, which can be used to apply a torque to mechanical objects and as a carrier of information in a classical and quantum telecommunication system. Light can carry angular momentum both by means of its spin angular momentum (as manifested for example in circular polarization) and by means of its orbital angular momentum (OAM), whose origin is a helical structure of its wavefront. The orbital angular momentum of light has recently been recognized to constitute a crucial attribute for many photonic technologies, including the trapping and manipulation of small particles and for multiplexing in optical telecommunication. In this presentation we review some of the fundamental properties of OAM including its quantum features such as entanglement. We then go on to describe a secure telecommunication system in which information is encoded in OAM, and which can carry more than one bit of information per photon.