Z. Jacob and T. Van Mechelen, “Unidirectional Maxwellian spin waves”, Nanophotonics, vol. 8, no. 8, 2019.

In this article, we develop a unified perspective of unidirectional topological edge waves in nonreciprocal media. We focus on the inherent role of photonic spin in nonreciprocal gyroelectric media, i.e. magnetized metals or magnetized insulators. Due to the large body of contradicting literature, we point out at the outset that these Maxwellian spin waves are fundamentally different from well-known topologically trivial surface plasmon polaritons. We first review the concept of a Maxwell Hamiltonian in nonreciprocal media, which immediately reveals that the gyrotropic coefficient behaves as a photon mass in two dimensions. Similar to the Dirac mass, this photonic mass opens bandgaps in the energy dispersion of bulk propagating waves. Within these bulk photonic bandgaps, three distinct classes of Maxwellian edge waves exist – each arising from subtle differences in boundary conditions. On one hand, the edge wave solutions are rigorous photonic analogs of Jackiw-Rebbi electronic edge states. On the other hand, for the exact same system, they can be high frequency photonic counterparts of the integer quantum Hall effect, familiar at zero frequency. Our Hamiltonian approach also predicts the existence of a third distinct class of Maxwellian edge wave exhibiting topological protection. This occurs in an intriguing topological bosonic phase of matter, fundamentally different from any known electronic or photonic medium. The Maxwellian edge state in this unique quantum gyroelectric phase of matter necessarily requires a sign change in gyrotropy arising from nonlocality (spatial dispersion). In a Drude system, this behavior emerges from a spatially dispersive cyclotron frequency that switches sign with momentum. A signature property of these topological electromagnetic edge states is that they are oblivious to the contacting medium, i.e. they occur at the interface of the quantum gyroelectric phase and any medium (even vacuum). This is because the edge state satisfies open boundary conditions – all components of the electromagnetic field vanish at the interface. Furthermore, the Maxwellian spin waves exhibit photonic spin-1 quantization in exact analogy with their supersymmetric spin-1/2 counterparts. The goal of this paper is to discuss these three foundational classes of edge waves in a unified perspective while providing in-depth derivations, taking into account nonlocality and various boundary conditions. Our work sheds light on the important role of photonic spin in condensed matter systems, where this definition of spin is also translatable to topological photonic crystals and metamaterials.

See also: Topological, Spin, Photonics
T. Van Mechelen and Z. Jacob, “Nonlocal topological electromagnetic phases of matter”, Physical Review B, vol. 99, no. 20, 2019.

In (2+1)-dimensional materials, nonlocal topological electromagnetic phases are defined as atomic-scale media which host photonic monopoles in the bulk band structure and respect bosonic symmetries (e.g., time reversal T2=+1). Additionally, they support topologically protected spin-1 edge states, which are fundamentally different than spin-12 and pseudo-spin-12 edge states arising in fermionic and pseudofermionic systems. The striking feature of the edge state is that all electric and magnetic field components vanish at the boundary, in stark contrast to analogs of Jackiw-Rebbi domain wall states. This surprising open boundary solution of Maxwell's equations, dubbed the quantum gyroelectric effect [Phys. Rev. A 98, 023842 (2018)], is the supersymmetric partner of the topological Dirac edge state where the spinor wave function completely vanishes at the boundary. The defining feature of such phases is the presence of temporal and spatial dispersion in conductivity (the linear response function). In this paper, we generalize these topological electromagnetic phases beyond the continuum approximation to the exact lattice field theory of a periodic atomic crystal. To accomplish this, we put forth the concept of microscopic photonic band structure of solids, analogous to the traditional theory of electronic band structure. Our definition of topological invariants utilizes optical Bloch modes and can be applied to naturally occurring crystalline materials. For the photon propagating within a periodic atomic crystal, our theory shows that besides the Chern invariant C∈Z, there are also symmetry-protected topological (SPT) invariants ν∈ZN which are related to the cyclic point group CN of the crystal ν=CmodN. Due to the rotational symmetries of light R(2π)=+1, these SPT phases are manifestly bosonic and behave very differently from their fermionic counterparts R(2π)=−1 encountered in conventional condensed-matter systems. Remarkably, the nontrivial bosonic phases ν≠0 are determined entirely from rotational (spin-1) eigenvalues of the photon at high-symmetry points in the Brillouin zone. Our work accelerates progress toward the discovery of bosonic phases of matter where the electromagnetic field within an atomic crystal exhibits topological properties.

See also: Topological, Spin
F. Khosravi, C. L. Cortes, and Z. Jacob, “Spin photonics in 3D whispering gallery mode resonators”, Optics Express, vol. 27, no. 11, pp. 15846–15855, 2019.

Whispering gallery modes are known for possessing orbital angular momentum, however the interplay of local spin density, orbital angular momentum, and the near-field interaction with quantum emitters is far less explored. Here, we study the spin-orbit interaction of a circularly polarized dipole with the whispering gallery modes (WGMs) of a spherical resonator. Using an exact dyadic Green’s function approach, we show that the near-field interaction between the photonic spin of a circularly polarized dipole and the local electromagnetic spin density of whispering gallery modes gives rise to unidirectional behaviour where modes with either positive or negative orbital angular momentum are excited. We show that this is a manifestation of spin-momentum locking with the whispering gallery modes of the spherical resonator. We also discuss requirements for possible experimental demonstrations using Zeeman transitions in cold atoms or quantum dots, and outline potential applications of these previously overlooked properties. Our work firmly establishes local spin density, momentum and decay as a universal right-handed electromagnetic triplet for near-field light-matter interaction.

See also: Spin, Photonics
L.-P. Yang and Z. Jacob, “Quantum critical detector: amplifying weak signals using discontinuous quantum phase transitions”, Optics Express, vol. 27, no. 8, pp. 10482–10494, 2019.

We propose a quantum critical detector (QCD) to amplify weak input signals. Our detector exploits a first-order discontinuous quantum-phase-transition and exhibits giant sensitivity (χ ∝ N2) when biased at the critical point. We propose a model consisting of spins with long-range interactions coupled to a bosonic mode to describe the time-dynamics in the QCD. We numerically demonstrate dynamical features of the first order (discontinuous) quantum phase transition such as time-dependent quantum gain in a system with 80 interacting spins. We also show the linear scaling with the spin number N in both the quantum gain and the corresponding signal-to-quantum noise ratio during the time evolution of the device. Our work shows that engineering first order discontinuous quantum phase transitions can lead to a device application for metrology, weak signal amplification, and single photon detection.

See also: Quantum, Spin
S. Molesky and Z. Jacob, “Definition of polaritonic fluctuations in natural hyperbolic media”, Physical Review A, vol. 99, no. 3, 2019.

The discovery of photonic hyperbolic dispersion surfaces in certain van der Waals bonded solids, such as hexagonal boron nitride and bismuth selenide (a topological insulator), offers intriguing possibilities for creating strongly modified light-matter interactions. However, open problems exist in quantifying electromagnetic field fluctuations in these media, complicating typical approaches for modeling photonic characteristics. Here, we address this issue by linking the identifying traits of hyperbolic response to a coupling between longitudinal and transverse fields that cannot occur in isotropic media. This description allows us to formulate a gauge theoretic description of the influence of hyperbolic response on electromagnetic fluctuations without explicitly imposing a characteristic size (model of nonlocality)—leading to formally bounded expressions so long as material absorption is included. We then apply this framework to two exemplary areas: the optical sum rule for modified spontaneous emission enhancement in a general uniaxial medium and thermal electromagnetic field fluctuations in hexagonal boron nitride and bismuth selenide. We find that while the sum rule is satisfied, it does not constrain the enhancement of light-matter interactions in either case. We also show that both hexagonal boron nitride and bismuth selenide possess broad spectral regions where the magnitude of electromagnetic field fluctuations are over 120 times larger, and over 800 times larger along specific angular directions, than they are in vacuum.

P. Shekhar, S. Pendharker, D. Vick, M. Malac, and Z. Jacob, “Fast electrons interacting with a natural hyperbolic medium: bismuth telluride”, Optics Express, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 6970–6975, 2019.

Fast electrons interacting with matter have been instrumental for probing bulk and surface photonic excitations including Cherenkov radiation and plasmons. Additionally, fast electrons are ideal to investigate unique bulk and longitudinal photonic modes in hyperbolic materials at large wavevectors difficult to probe optically. Here, we use momentum-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy (k-EELS) to perform the first experimental demonstration of high-k modes and hyperbolic Cherenkov radiation in the natural hyperbolic material Bi2Te3. This work establishes Bi2Te3 as one of the few viable natural hyperbolic materials in the visible and paves the way for k-EELS as a fundamental tool to probe hyperbolic media.

T. Van Mechelen and Z. Jacob, “Photonic Dirac monopoles and skyrmions: spin-1 quantization”, Optical Materials Express, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 95–111, 2019.

We introduce the concept of a photonic Dirac monopole, appropriate for photonic crystals, metamaterials and 2D materials, by utilizing the Dirac-Maxwell correspondence. We start by exploring the vacuum where the reciprocal momentum space of both Maxwell’s equations and the massless Dirac equation (Weyl equation) possess a magnetic monopole. The critical distinction is the nature of magnetic monopole charges, which are integer valued for photons but half-integer for electrons. This inherent difference is directly tied to the spin and ultimately connects to the bosonic or fermionic behavior. We also show the presence of photonic Dirac strings, which are line singularities in the underlying Berry gauge potential. While the results in vacuum are intuitively expected, our central result is the application of this topological Dirac-Maxwell correspondence to 2D photonic (bosonic) materials, as opposed to conventional electronic (fermionic) materials. Intriguingly, within dispersive matter, the presence of photonic Dirac monopoles is captured by nonlocal quantum Hall conductivity–i.e., a spatiotemporally dispersive gyroelectric constant. For both 2D photonic and electronic media, the nontrivial topological phases emerge in the context of massive particles with broken time-reversal symmetry. However, the bulk dynamics of these bosonic and fermionic Chern insulators are characterized by spin-1 and spin-½ skyrmions in momentum space, which have fundamentally different interpretations. This is exemplified by their contrasting spin-1 and spin-½ helically quantized edge states. Our work sheds light on the recently proposed quantum gyroelectric phase of matter and the essential role of photon spin quantization in topological bosonic phases.

See also: Photonics, Topological, Spin
L.-P. Yang and Z. Jacob, “Engineering first-order quantum phase transitions for weak signal detection”, Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 126, 2019.

The quantum critical detector (QCD), recently introduced for weak signal amplification [L.-P. Yang and Z. Jacob, Opt. Express 27, 10482 (2019)], functions by exploiting high sensitivity near the phase transition point of first-order quantum phase transitions (QPTs). We contrast the behavior of the first-order and the second-order quantum phase transitions in the detector. We find that the giant sensitivity, which can be utilized for quantum amplification, only exists in the first-order QPTs. We define two new magnetic order parameters to quantitatively characterize the first-order QPT of the interacting spins in the detector. We also introduce the Husimi QQ-functions as a powerful tool to show the fundamental change in the ground-state wave function of the detector during the QPTs, especially the intrinsic dynamical change within the detector during a quantum critical amplification. We explicitly show the high figures of merit of the QCD via the quantum gain and the signal-to-quantum noise ratio. Specifically, we predict the existence of a universal first-order QPT in the interacting-spin system resulting from two competing ferromagnetic orders. Our results motivate new designs of weak signal detectors by engineering first-order QPTs, which are of fundamental significance in the search for new particles, quantum metrology, and information science.

See also: Quantum


P. Shekhar et al., “Extreme ultraviolet plasmonics and Cherenkov radiation in silicon”, Optica, vol. 5, no. 12, pp. 1590–1596, 2018.

Silicon is widely used as the material of choice for semiconductor and insulator applications in nanoelectronics, micro-electro-mechanical systems, solar cells, and on-chip photonics. In stark contrast, in this paper, we explore silicon’s metallic properties and show that it can support propagating surface plasmons, collective charge oscillations, in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) energy regime not possible with other plasmonic materials such as aluminum, silver, or gold. This is fundamentally different from conventional approaches, where doping semiconductors is considered necessary to observe plasmonic behavior. We experimentally map the photonic band structure of EUV surface and bulk plasmons in silicon using momentum-resolved electron energy loss spectroscopy. Our experimental observations are validated by macroscopic electrodynamic electron energy loss theory simulations as well as quantum density functional theory calculations. As an example of exploiting these EUV plasmons for applications, we propose a tunable and broadband thresholdless Cherenkov radiation source in the EUV using silicon plasmonic metamaterials. Our work can pave the way for the field of EUV plasmonics.

W. D. Newman et al., “Observation of long-range dipole-dipole interactions in hyperbolic metamaterials”, Science Advances, vol. 4, no. 10, 2018.

Dipole-dipole interactions (Vdd) between closely spaced atoms and molecules are related to real photon and virtual photon exchange between them and decrease in the near field connected with the characteristic Coulombic dipole field law. The control and modification of this marked scaling with distance have become a long-standing theme in quantum engineering since dipole-dipole interactions govern Van der Waals forces, collective Lamb shifts, atom blockade effects, and Förster resonance energy transfer. We show that metamaterials can fundamentally modify these interactions despite large physical separation between interacting quantum emitters. We demonstrate a two orders of magnitude increase in the near-field resonant dipole-dipole interactions at intermediate field distances (10 times the near field) and observe the distance scaling law consistent with a super-Coulombic interaction theory curtailed only by absorption and finite size effects of the metamaterial constituents. We develop a first-principles numerical approach of many-body dipole-dipole interactions in metamaterials to confirm our theoretical predictions and experimental observations. In marked distinction to existing approaches of engineering radiative interactions, our work paves the way for controlling long-range dipole-dipole interactions using hyperbolic metamaterials and natural hyperbolic two-dimensional materials.