Optical modes bearing optical vortices are important light systems in which to encode information. Optical vortices are robust features of optical beams that do not dissipate upon propagation. Thus decoding the modal content of a beam is a vital component of the process. In this work we present a method to decode modal superpositions of light beams that contain optical vortices. We do so using shear interferometry, which presents a simple and effective means of determining the vortex content of a beam, and extract the parameters of the component vortex modes that constitute them. We find that optical modes in a beam are easily determined. Its modal content can be extracted when they are of comparable magnitude. The use of modes of well defined topological charge but not well defined radial-mode content, such as those produced by phase-only encoding, are much easier to diagnose than pure Laguerre-Gauss modes.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.