Quantum Theory / Particle Physics
angular momentum of light
The electromagnetic theory of the torque exerted by a beam of polarized light on a doubly refracting plate which alters its state of polarization is summarized. The same quantitative result is obtained by assigning an angular momentum of ħ (-ħ) to each quantum of left (right) circularly polarized light in a vacuum, and assuming the conservation of angular momentum holds at the face of the plate. The apparatus used to detect and measure this effect was designed to enhance the moment of force to be measured by an appropriate arrangement of quartz wave plates, and to reduce interferences. The results of about 120 determinations by two observers working independently show that magnitude and sign of the effect to be correct, and show that it varies as predicted by the theory with each of three experimental variables which could be independently adjusted.