Vortices are well known in our world: tornadoes, hurricanes, and quickly stirred iced tea all demonstrate the vortex phenomenon. In addition to these classical fluids, vortices exist in laser light. While classical fluid vortex dynamics is one of the oldest studied physics problems, the study of optical vortices is only a few decades old. Paralleling the community’s curiosity of quantized vortices in quantum fluids, such as super fluid helium and Bose-Einstein condensate, there is immense interest in the study of optical vortices. In this article, we cover the basic theory of structuring light to generate optical vortices and then discuss experiments performed to study their characteristics and dynamics.

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