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York laser light conference an international success

Posted on 13 April 2010


The first dedicated international conference on the subject of Optical Angular Momentum (ICOAM), held at the University of York on 23-25 March 2010, was a great success.  Following the conference, Cambridge University Press has commissioned co-chairs Professor Mohamed Babiker of York’s Department of Physics and Professor David Andrews of UEA to edit a book.  A special issue of the Journal of Optics is also being produced. 

The subject matter of the conference was the angular momentum associated with certain types of light (laser light with a ‘twist’) and its potential applications in a wide variety of contexts including physics, astrophysics, biology, and chemistry.  The conference attracted nearly 100 delegates from around the world, and numerous contributors of international renown.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Cantor, and Head of the Physics Department, Professor Brian Fulton, both addressed the conference at a reception on Tuesday 23 March hosted by the Physics Department.

Highlights of the conference included:-

  •   Applications of optical angular momentum in astrophysics (Speakers: Professors Bo Thidé; Grover Swaltzlander and Fabrizio Tamborini, and others)
    A look at the study of light beams at radio frequencies, opening new possibilities in new instrumental astronomy (e.g. coronagraphs) and for novel experiments, allowing telescopes to break the Rayleigh criterion limit, increasing the resolving power ten-fold.
  • Advances in using the states of light carrying optical angular momentum in quantum information and quantum computing (Speakers: Anton Zeilinger; Sonjia Franke-Arnold and Juan Perez Torres, and others) 
  • Generation of persistent atomic currents in interaction with atoms and Bose-Einstein condensates
    ( Speakers: Gretchen Campbell on behalf of Bill Phillips (Nobel laureate 1997 "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light") and Lembessis, Babiker and Andrews)
    The topics focused on included work carried out by the Department of Physics at York on polarization gradients and surface optical vortices.

The conference also gave rise to new possibilities for research collaborations, including a potential project with a Japanese group in which Professors Babiker and Yuan of the Department of Physics are to investigate new avenues for the application of particle beams carrying orbital angular momentum in the areas of condensed matter and nanophysics.

Many other new developments, some of fundamental nature, were presented at the conference by prominent scientists, such as Professor Sir Michael Berry of the University of Bristol.

ICOAM - group photograph of conference delegates at Vanbrugh College

Prof Mohamed Babiker with Prof David Andrews of UEACo-chairs Professor David Andrews of UEA and Professor Mohamed Babiker of the University of York

ICOAM - conference presentation

“I would like to thank you again for inviting me to York.  The conference was fantastic!” (Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

“Let me express my joy over having participated in the ICOAM.  It was a really good conference.  Excellently organised.” (Professor Bo Thidé of Uppsala University, Sweden)

“A fine conference.  I am looking forward to seeing a fine book.” (Professor Les Allen of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow)