Michael Mazilu, Yoshihiko Arita, Tom Vettenburg, Juan M. Auñón, Ewan M. Wright, and Kishan Dholakia
We demonstrate the transfer of orbital angular momentum to an optically levitated microparticle in vacuum. The microparticle is placed within a Laguerre-Gaussian beam and orbits the annular beam profile with increasing angular velocity as the air drag coefficient is reduced. We explore the particle dynamics as a function of the topological charge of the levitating beam. Our results reveal that there is a fundamental limit to the orbital angular momentum that may be transferred to a trapped particle, dependent upon the beam parameters and inertial forces present.