Topological Optics

Activating optical topology

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Science  26 Jul 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6451, pp. 338-339
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6451.338-c

The symmetry of the band gap of some condensed matter systems can give rise to topological features which protect particular transport properties of the system. It has also been recognized that many of these properties can be incorporated into optical systems, in which the materials and design parameters are more versatile and less constrained than in their solid-state counterparts. Shalaev et al. introduce an active element to the mix, showing that specially designed photonic crystals patterned into silicon can allow their topological features to be switched on and off through illumination. Being compatible with standard semiconductor fabrication processes, the devices could form key components of an integrated optical platform that is immune to defects and imperfections.

Optica 6, 839 (2019).

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