We report on an imaging-inspired measurement of orbital angular momentum (OAM) using only a simple tilted lens and an intensified charged coupled device camera, allowing us to monitor the propagation of OAM structured photons over distance, which is crucial for free-space quantum communication networks. We demonstrate the measurement of OAM orders as high as ls = 14 in a heralded single-photon source and show, for the first time, the imaged self-interference of photons carrying OAM in a modified Mach–Zehnder interferometer. The described methods reveal both the charge and order of a photon's OAM and provide a proof of concept for the interference of a single OAM photon with itself. Using these tools, we are able to study the propagation characteristics of OAM photons over a distance, which is important for estimating transport in free-space quantum links. By translating these classical tools into the quantum domain, we offer a robust and direct approach for the complete characterization of a twisted single-photon source, an important building block of a quantum network.

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