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Perspective

Optical Helicity and Optical Chirality in Free Space and in the Presence of Matter

1
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 496 Lomita Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2
Donostia International Physics Center and Centro de Fisica de Materiales CSIC-UPV/EHU, Paseo Manuel de Lardizabal 4, 20018 Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain
3
IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Maria Diaz de Haro 3, 48013 Bilbao, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Symmetry 2019, 11(9), 1113; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11091113
Received: 17 July 2019 / Revised: 13 August 2019 / Accepted: 15 August 2019 / Published: 3 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Duality Symmetry)
The inherently weak nature of chiral light–matter interactions can be enhanced by orders of magnitude utilizing artificially-engineered nanophotonic structures. These structures enable high spatial concentration of electromagnetic fields with controlled helicity and chirality. However, the effective design and optimization of nanostructures requires defining physical observables which quantify the degree of electromagnetic helicity and chirality. In this perspective, we discuss optical helicity, optical chirality, and their related conservation laws, describing situations in which each provides the most meaningful physical information in free space and in the context of chiral light–matter interactions. First, an instructive comparison is drawn to the concepts of momentum, force, and energy in classical mechanics. In free space, optical helicity closely parallels momentum, whereas optical chirality parallels force. In the presence of macroscopic matter, the optical helicity finds its optimal physical application in the case of lossless, dual-symmetric media, while, in contrast, the optical chirality provides physically observable information in the presence of lossy, dispersive media. Finally, based on numerical simulations of a gold and silicon nanosphere, we discuss how metallic and dielectric nanostructures can generate chiral electromagnetic fields upon interaction with chiral light, offering guidelines for the rational design of nanostructure-enhanced electromagnetic chirality. View Full-Text
Keywords: optical chirality; optical helicity; nanophotonics; plasmonics; parity symmetry; time symmetry optical chirality; optical helicity; nanophotonics; plasmonics; parity symmetry; time symmetry
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MDPI and ACS Style

Poulikakos, L.V.; Dionne, J.A.; García-Etxarri, A. Optical Helicity and Optical Chirality in Free Space and in the Presence of Matter. Symmetry 2019, 11, 1113. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11091113

AMA Style

Poulikakos LV, Dionne JA, García-Etxarri A. Optical Helicity and Optical Chirality in Free Space and in the Presence of Matter. Symmetry. 2019; 11(9):1113. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11091113

Chicago/Turabian Style

Poulikakos, Lisa V., Jennifer A. Dionne, and Aitzol García-Etxarri. 2019. "Optical Helicity and Optical Chirality in Free Space and in the Presence of Matter" Symmetry 11, no. 9: 1113. https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11091113

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