Nonreciprocal lasing in topological cavities of arbitrary geometries

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 636-640
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4551

Topological lasing

Resonant cavities that confine light are crucial components of lasers. Typically, these cavities are designed to high specification to get the best possible output. That, however, can limit their integration into photonic devices and optical circuits. Bahari et al. fabricated resonant cavities of arbitrary shape within a hybrid photonic crystal structure. The confinement of light to topologically protected edge states resulted in lasing at communication wavelengths. Relaxing the resonant cavity design criteria should be useful in designing photonic devices.

Science, this issue p. 636


Resonant cavities are essential building blocks governing many wave-based phenomena, but their geometry and reciprocity fundamentally limit the integration of optical devices. We report, at telecommunication wavelengths, geometry-independent and integrated nonreciprocal topological cavities that couple stimulated emission from one-way photonic edge states to a selected waveguide output with an isolation ratio in excess of 10 decibels. Nonreciprocity originates from unidirectional edge states at the boundary between photonic structures with distinct topological invariants. Our experimental demonstration of lasing from topological cavities provides the opportunity to develop complex topological circuitry of arbitrary geometries for the integrated and robust generation and transport of photons in classical and quantum regimes.

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