What is light? Will topological photonics help resolve the mysteries of this electromagnetic property of nature?
Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have created a crystal maze to control how light spreads. Prof Robert Thomson and Dr Sebabrata Mukherjee have created a new kind of crystal to control the spread of light.
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, they say they did it using an ultrafast laser which was the crystal into glass. Ultrafast in this context is a laser that can emit light pulses just one-trillionth of a second long.
Then they put the crystal into an optical cavity to trap the light. This meant it was continually recycled so they could capture how the light's topological state evolved.
Scottish researchers create 'crystal maze' for light | BBC
Shining a light on topological photonics
Will topological photonic experiments provide evidence and explain the theory of wave–particle duality or will it eventually help show that light waves might be better explained in an electric plasma universe?
the fledgling field of topological photonics, which has developed as a result of the drive to understand more about how matter behaves... This field had emerged from mathematical theory.
Topology looks at entities whose properties are maintained even when they undergo continuous deformation. They can be stretched, bent or twisted while still maintaining their fundamental properties.
Imagine a coffee mug. Imagine a bit more, that the mug is made of bendy, stretchy stuff like modelling clay. If you deform the mug enough you can make it into the shape of a doughnut. But in topological terms its properties have been preserved: it's still a single lump of stuff with a single hole in it.
Scottish researchers create crystal maze for light | BBC
Topological materials not only are revolutionizing our views on solid-state materials but also promise unprecedented advances in technology. In recent years, it has become clear that topological phases are not limited to fermionic systems, but can also be found in classical systems, including photonic crystals and metamaterials...
it was demonstrated that the proposed, topologically nontrivial metamaterial supports helical electromagnetic excitations that can tolerate sharp bends and propagate without reflection. Electromagnetic radiation in the form of topological surface modes flows unimpeded along arbitrary contours defined by the synthetic gauge field, which points to applications in implementing of topologically robust, 3-D photonic circuitry.
Topological Photonics Goes Three-Dimensional | The Optical Society
The shape of topological photonics
The application of topology, the mathematics of conserved properties under continuous deformations, is creating a range of new opportunities throughout photonics. This field was inspired by the discovery of topological insulators, in which interfacial electrons transport without dissipation, even in the presence of impurities. Similarly, the use of carefully designed wavevector-space topologies allows the creation of interfaces that support new states of light with useful and interesting properties.