Electromagnetic Confinement via Spin–Orbit Interaction in Anisotropic Dielectrics
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We investigate electromagnetic propagation in uniaxial dielectrics with a transversely varying orientation of the optic axis, the latter staying orthogonal everywhere in the propagation direction. In such a geometry, the field experiences no refractive index gradients, yet it acquires a transversely modulated Pancharatnam–Berry phase, that is, a geometric phase originating from a spin–orbit interaction. We show that the periodic evolution of the geometric phase versus propagation gives rise to a longitudinally invariant effective potential. In certain configurations, this geometric phase can provide transverse confinement and waveguiding. The theoretical findings are tested and validated against numerical simulations of the complete Maxwell’s equations. Our results introduce and illustrate the role of geometric phases on electromagnetic propagation over distances well exceeding the diffraction length, paving the way to a whole new family of guided waves and waveguides that do not rely on refractive index tailoring.