Friday, December 14, 2012

1212.3146 (Mikael C. Rechtsman et al.)

Photonic Floquet Topological Insulators    [PDF]

Mikael C. Rechtsman, Julia M. Zeuner, Yonatan Plotnik, Yaakov Lumer, Stefan Nolte, Mordechai Segev, Alexander Szameit
The topological insulator is a fundamentally new phase of matter, with the striking property that the conduction of electrons occurs only on its surface, not within the bulk, and that conduction is topologically protected. Topological protection, the total lack of scattering of electron waves by disorder, is perhaps the most fascinating and technologically important aspect of this material: it provides robustness that is otherwise known only for superconductors. However, unlike superconductivity and the quantum Hall effect, which necessitate low temperatures or magnetic fields, the immunity to disorder of topological insulators occurs at room temperature and without any external magnetic field. For this reason, topological protection is predicted to have wide-ranging applications in fault-tolerant quantum computing and spintronics. Recently, a large theoretical effort has been directed towards bringing the concept into the domain of photonics: achieving topological protection of light at optical frequencies. Besides the interesting new physics involved, photonic topological insulators hold the promise for applications in optical isolation and robust photon transport. Here, we theoretically propose and experimentally demonstrate the first photonic topological insulator: a photonic lattice exhibiting topologically protected transport on the lattice edges, without the need for any external field. The system is composed of an array of helical waveguides, evanescently coupled to one another, and arranged in a graphene-like honeycomb lattice. The chirality of the waveguides results in scatter-free, one-way edge states that are topologically protected from scattering.
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