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A team of researchers at the University of Maryland has found a new way to route photons at the micrometer scale without scattering by building a topological quantum optics interface. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their topological photonic structure, how it works, and the ways they tested it. Alberto Amo with Université de Lill in Spain offers a short history of recent attempts to route photons at such a tiny scale and also outlines the work done by the team at UM.
As Amo notes, scientists would like to be able to route photons with precision at the micrometer scale to create better integrated quantum optical circuits —a tendency of photons to scatter when meeting with bends and splitters has inhibited progress. In this new effort, the researchers have gotten around this problem by taking a new approach—using a semiconductor slab with triangular holes arranged in hexagon patterns. The slab was fashioned into a lattice of hexagons, with larger triangular holes on one side of the slab than the other. The routing occurred where the two types of hexagons met.
Architecture - Slab - Edge - States - Crystals
The architecture of the slab created edge states where two photonic crystals met—the bands touched and crossed over, producing edge states with energy between two crystal band gaps, allowing a photon to move between them without scattering. The arrangement of the hexagons provided band gaps next to one another from one side of the slab to the other, creating a channel of sorts for the photons...
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