High-accuracy longitudinal position measurement using self-accelerating light

Shashi Prabhakar, Stephen Z.D. Plachta, Marco Ornigotti, Robert Fickler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Radially self-accelerating light exhibits an intensity pattern that describes a spiraling trajectory around the optical axis as the beam propagates. In this article, we show in simulation and experiment how such beams can be used to performa high-accuracy distance measurement with respect to a reference using simple off-axis intensity detection. We demonstrate that generating beams whose intensity pattern simultaneously spirals with fast and slow rotation components enables a distance measurement with high accuracy over a broad range, using the high and lowrotation frequency, respectively. In our experiment,we achieve an accuracy of around 2 μm over a longitudinal range of more than 2 mm using a single beam and only two quadrant detectors. Because our method relies on single-beam interference and only requires a static generation and simple intensity measurements, it is intrinsically stable and could find applications in high-speed measurements of longitudinal position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3203-3210
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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