In the last decade, some of the most extensively studied complex light beams are optical vortices, which possess phase or polarization singularities and can carry orbital angular momentum. These beams resemble the emission patterns of single molecule dipoles, and represent a potentially infinite set of eigenstates that can be constructed with light. Their use has been demonstrated in, or proposed for, several applications such as higher-dimensional quantum encryption, single-molecule spectroscopy, exoplanet detection, information capacity scaling, nano-scale imaging and laser wakefield acceleration.
A recently developed optical fiber waveguide, designed by exploiting spin-orbit coupling interactions commonly encountered in electronic systems, has enabled the stable generation and propagation of optical vortices in fibers for distances of up to kilometres. Since fibers are well known for their ability to offer nonlinear and dispersive tailoring of light, this additionally opens the door to studying and exploiting nonlinear phenomena with such beams. This talk will discuss recent results and intriguing possibilities enabled by fiber propagation of beams that have long been considered interesting, but hitherto unstable in nature.