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Interfaces and defects in topological model systems of 3D micro-printed waveguides

  • Topological insulators (TI) are a fascinating new state of matter. Like usual insulators, their band structure possesses a band gap, such that they cannot conduct current in their bulk. However, they are able to conduct current along their edges and surfaces, due to edge states that cross the band gap. What makes TIs so interesting and potentially useful are these robust unidirectional edge currents. They are immune to significant defects and disorder, which means that they provide scattering-free transport. In photonics, using topological protection has a huge potential for applications, e.g. for robust optical data transfer [1-3] – even on the quantum level [4, 5] – or to make devices more stable and robust [6, 7]. Therefore, the field of topological insulators has spread to optics to create the new and active research field of topological photonics [8-10]. Well-defined and controllable model systems can help to provide deeper insight into the mechanisms of topologically protected transport. These model systems provide a vast control over parameters. For example, arbitrary lattice types without defects can be examined, and single lattice sites can be manipulated. Furthermore, they allow for the observation of effects that usually happen at extremely short time-scales in solids. Model systems based on photonic waveguides are ideal candidates for this. They consist of optical waveguides arranged on a lattice. Due to evanescent coupling, light that is inserted into one waveguide spreads along the lattice. This coupling of light between waveguides can be seen as an analogue to electrons hopping/tunneling between atomic lattice sites in a solid. The theoretical basis for this analogy is given by the mathematical equivalence between Schrödinger and paraxial Helmholtz equation. This means that in these waveguide systems, the role of time is assigned to a spatial axis. The field evolution along the waveguides' propagation axis z thus models the temporal evolution of an electron's wave-function in solid states. Electric and magnetic fields acting on electrons in solids need to be incorporated into the photonic platform by introducing artificial fields. These artificial gauge fields need to act on photons in the same way that their electro-magnetic counterparts act on electrons. E.g., to create a photonic analogue of a topological insulator the waveguides are bent helically along their propagation axis to model the effect of a magnetic field [3]. This means that the fabrication of these waveguide arrays needs to be done in 3D. In this thesis, a new method to 3D micro-print waveguides is introduced. The inverse structure is fabricated via direct laser writing, and subsequently infiltrated with a material with higher refractive index contrast. We will use these model systems of evanescently coupled waveguides to look at different effects in topological systems, in particular at Floquet topological systems. We will start with a topologically trivial system, consisting of two waveguide arrays with different artificial gauge fields. There, we observe that an interface between these trivial gauge fields has a profound impact on the wave vector of the light traveling across it. We deduce an analog to Snell's law and verify it experimentally. Then we will move on to Floquet topological systems, consisting of helical waveguides. At the interface between two Floquet topological insulators with opposite helicity of the waveguides, we find additional trivial interface modes that trap the light. This allows to investigate the interaction between trivial and topological modes in the lattice. Furthermore, we address the question if topological edge states are robust under the influence of time-dependent defects. In a one-dimensional topological model (the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model [11]) we apply periodic temporal modulations to an edge wave-guide. We find Floquet copies of the edge state, that couple to the bulk in a certain frequency window and thus depopulate the edge state. In the two-dimensional Floquet topological insulator, we introduce single defects at the edge. When these defects share the temporal periodicity of the helical bulk waveguides, they have no influence on a topological edge mode. Then, the light moves around/through the defect without being scattered into the bulk. Defects with different periodicity, however, can – likewise to the defects in the SSH model – induce scattering of the edge state into the bulk. In the end we will briefly highlight a newly emerging method for the fabrication of waveguides with low refractive index contrast. Moreover, we will introduce new ways to create artificial gauge fields by the use of orbital angular momentum states in waveguides.

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Author:Christina JörgORCiD
URN (permanent link):urn:nbn:de:hbz:386-kluedo-57644
Advisor:Georg von FreymannORCiD
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language of publication:English
Publication Date:2019/10/25
Year of Publication:2019
Publishing Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Granting Institute:Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Acceptance Date of the Thesis:2019/09/27
Date of the Publication (Server):2019/10/28
GND-Keyword:3D printing; photonics; topological insulator; waveguides
Number of page:VI, 133
Faculties / Organisational entities:Fachbereich Physik
DDC-Cassification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 530 Physik
PACS-Classification (physics):40.00.00 ELECTROMAGNETISM, OPTICS, ACOUSTICS, HEAT TRANSFER, CLASSICAL MECHANICS, AND FLUID DYNAMICS / 42.00.00 Optics (for optical properties of gases, see 51.70.+f; for optical properties of bulk materials and thin films, see 78.20.-e; for x-ray optics, see 41.50.+h)
Licence (German):Zweitveröffentlichung