Atom Vortex Beams
The concept that all de Broglie particles can form vortex beams is analyzed for neutral atoms. It is shown how atoms diffracted from a suitably constructed optical mask configuration employing light of l units of orbital angular momentum and at far-off resonance with an atomic transition can lead to the generation of a discrete set of atom vortex beams each endowed with the property of quantized orbital angular momentum about the beam axis in units of ℏl. Selection criteria of atom vortex beams are derived and the functioning of the mask configuration for angular dispersion of beams in terms of de Broglie wavelength is analyzed. Prospects of applications in the areas of atom interferometry and dispersion, and quantum information processing via atom vortices are pointed out.