Abstract

A chiral medium can create an anisotropic electromagnetic environment, which leads to anisotropic quantum-vacuum fields (and observable quantum-vacuum effects). As the noncompensation effect of a pair of counterpropagating (and counterpolarized) vacuum modes will arise in the chiral medium, the physical effects resulting from the quantum-vacuum fluctuation of left- and right-handed polarized modes will no longer be exactly canceled. This may lead to an observable quantum vacuum contribution to the Berry phases of circularly polarized modes in a time-dependent quantum system (e.g., a coiled light propagating in a noncoplanarly curved fiber). A scheme to separate the quantum-vacuum Berry phase of one polarized mode from another by using a chiral-medium fiber is suggested, and the time evolution of the vacuum zero-point energy in a coiled fiber is considered.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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