Observation of chiral zero mode in inhomogeneous three-dimensional Weyl metamaterials

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Science  11 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 148-151
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau7707

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A photonic Weyl system by design

Theoretically proposed exotic physics is now being explored and realized in condensed matter and photonic systems. Weyl physics arises when the valence band and conduction bands meet at discrete points in the band structure. Jia et al. designed and fabricated a photonic metamaterial in which the position of the Weyl points in momentum space could be tuned using a huge artificial magnetic field. Because these points are stable, the ability to design and control such a Weyl system with a robust chiral optical mode could be exploited in future optical information processing applications.

Science, this issue p. 148


Owing to the chirality of Weyl nodes, the Weyl systems can support one-way chiral zero modes under a strong magnetic field, which leads to nonconservation of chiral currents—the so-called chiral anomaly. Although promising for robust transport of optical information, the zero chiral bulk modes have not been observed in photonics. Here we design an inhomogeneous Weyl metamaterial in which a gauge field is generated for the Weyl nodes by engineering the individual unit cells. We experimentally confirm the presence of the gauge field and observe the zero-order chiral Landau level with one-way propagation. Without breaking the time-reversal symmetry, our system provides a route for designing an artificial magnetic field in three-dimensional photonic Weyl systems and may have potential for device applications in photonics.

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