We demonstrate that the polarization patterns observed in backscattering of linearly polarized light are a manifestation of the conservation of angular momentum of light. We will show that this phenomenon can be described in terms of phase vortices that are acquired by the right and left circularly polarized components. The helicity and orbital angular momentum of these components satisfy the requirement for conservation of angular momentum.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: December 9, 2005
Revised Manuscript: January 17, 2006
Manuscript Accepted: January 17, 2006
Vol. 1, Iss. 5 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics
Chaim Schwartz and Aristide Dogariu, "Backscattered polarization patterns, optical vortices, and the angular momentum of light," Opt. Lett. 31, 1121-1123 (2006)