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Classical light beams and geometric phases

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Abstract

We present a study of geometric phases in classical wave and polarization optics using the basic mathematical framework of quantum mechanics. Important physical situations taken from scalar wave optics, pure polarization optics, and the behavior of polarization in the eikonal or ray limit of Maxwell’s equations in a transparent medium are considered. The case of a beam of light whose propagation direction and polarization state are both subject to change is dealt with, attention being paid to the validity of Maxwell’s equations at all stages. Global topological aspects of the space of all propagation directions are discussed using elementary group theoretical ideas, and the effects on geometric phases are elucidated.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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