The orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light has been at the center of several classical and quantum applications for imaging, information processing and communication. However, the complex structure inherent in OAM states makes their detection and classification nontrivial in many circumstances. Most of the current detection schemes are based on models of the OAM states built upon the use of Laguerre–Gauss (LG) modes. However, this may not in general be sufficient to capture full information on the generated states. In this paper, we go beyond the LG assumption, and employ hypergeometric-Gaussian (HyGG) modes as the basis states of a refined model that can be used—in certain scenarios—to better tailor OAM detection techniques. We show that enhanced performances in OAM detection are obtained for holographic projection via spatial light modulators in combination with single-mode fibers (SMFs), and for classification techniques based on a machine learning approach. Furthermore, a three-fold enhancement in the SMF coupling efficiency is obtained for the holographic technique, when using the HyGG model with respect to the LG one. This improvement provides a significant boost in the overall efficiency of OAM-encoded single-photon detection systems. Given that most of the experimental works using OAM states are effectively based on the generation of HyGG modes, our findings thus represent a relevant addition to experimental toolboxes for OAM-based protocols in quantum communication, cryptography and simulation.
A. Suprano, D. Zia, E. Polino, T. Giordani, L. Innocenti, M. Paternostro, A. Ferraro, N. Spagnolo and F. Sciarrino. Enhanced detection techniques of orbital angular momentum states in the classical and quantum regimes. New J. Phys. 23 073014 (2021)