Published: 16 April 2013, 10:05
The photonics industry is at the heart of modern computing and communications. Continuously growing demands in the integration and density of optical devices, the degree of miniaturization becomes increasingly high. However, when devices get smaller, imperfections in the fabrication process play a large role, making the light move in an irregular and unpredictable way. Hence, there is a need for a new methodology to prevent unwanted scattering from any kind of defect.
A team of scientists in the groups of Prof. Alexander Szameit at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena and Prof. Mordechai Segev at the Technion in Haifa, Israel now reached this long-standing goal. In their most recent work, which is first authored by Julia Zeuner from the Institute of Applied Physics Jena and Mikael Rechtsman and Yonathan Plotnik from the Technion in Israel, the researchers have experimentally demonstrated a photonic topological insulator using a lattice of helical waveguides that are arranged in honeycomb geometry. In such a structure, light is "topologically protected", which means it flows uninterrupted around imperfections despite the presence of such defects. The scientists are confident that their discovery is another step in the progress towards optical and quantum computing, and that such ideas might one day be an important part of the optical communication industry, being robust to scattering and disturbances: a "super-conductor of light".
This research, that was recently published in NATURE [Nature 496, 196 (2013)], manifests a long standing German-Israeli collaboration between the two teams.
M. C. Rechtsman*, J. M. Zeuner*, Y. Plotnik*, Y. Lumer, D. Podolsky, F. Dreisow, S. Nolte, M. Segev, and A. Szameit, "Photonic Floquet Topological Insulators," Nature 496, 196-200 (2013).
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