Abstract

To consider the relationship between different measures of chirality in an optical field, the simplest case is considered: direct spontaneous emission of circularly polarized light by a point source. In the electromagnetic fields radiated from a suitably chiral source, such as a low-symmetry chiral molecule undergoing radiative decay, optical helicity is exhibited in the extent of a difference in left- and right-handed circular polarization components. There are several practical measures for quantifying the emergence of ensuing optical helicity, exhibiting different forms of dependence on the properties of the emitter and the positioning of a detector. By casting each measure in terms of an irreducible helicity density, connections and distinctions can be drawn between results expressible in either classical or quantum form.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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