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Deep-subwavelength features of photonic skyrmions in a confined electromagnetic field with orbital angular momentum

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Luping Du, Aiping Yang, Anatoly V. Zayats, Xiaocong Yuan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-654
Number of pages5
JournalNature Physics
Issue number7
Early online date15 Apr 2019
Accepted/In press27 Feb 2019
E-pub ahead of print15 Apr 2019
PublishedJul 2019


King's Authors


In magnetic materials, skyrmions are nanoscale regions where the orientation of electron spin changes in a vortex-type manner1-4. Electromagnetic waves carry both spin and orbital angular momenta5,6. Here we show that spin-orbit coupling7-12 in a focused vector beam results in skyrmion-like structure of local photonic spin. While diffraction limits the spatial size of intensity variations, the direction of the electromagnetic field, which defines the polarization and local photonic spin state, is not subject to this limitation. We demonstrate that the local spin direction in the skyrmion-like structure varies on the deep-subwavelength scales down to 1/60 of light wavelength, which corresponds to about 10 nanometre lengthscale. The application of photonic skyrmions may range from high-resolution imaging and precision metrology to quantum technologies and data storage where the local spin state of the field, not its intensity, can be applied to achieve deep-subwavelength optical patterns.

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