Internal flows and energy circulation in light beams
Bliokh, Konstantin Y
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Bekshaev, Aleksandr; Bliokh, Konstantin Y; Soskin, Marat (2011). Internal flows and energy circulation in light beams. Journal of Optics 13 (5),
We review optical phenomena associated with the internal energy redistribution which accompany propagation and transformations of monochromatic light fields in homogeneous media. The total energy flow (linear-momentum density, Poynting vector) can be divided into a spin part associated with the polarization and an orbital part associated with the spatial inhomogeneity. We give a general description of the internal flows in the coordinate and momentum (angular spectrum) representations for both nonparaxial and paraxial fields. This enables one to determine local densities and integral values of the spin and orbital angular momenta of the field. We analyse patterns of the internal flows in standard beam models (Gaussian, Laguerre-Gaussian, flat-top beam, etc), which provide an insightful picture of the energy transport. Emphasis is given to the singular points of the flow fields. We describe the spin-orbit and orbit-orbit interactions in the processes of beam focusing and symmetry breakdown. Finally, we consider how the energy flows manifest themselves in the mechanical action on probing particles and in the transformations of a propagating beam subjected to a transverse perturbation.