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MSE Seminar: “Science and Applications of Topological Photonics across the Electromagnetic Spectrum”

October 17, 2019 at 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Kosterlitz, Thouless, and Haldane for their pioneering theoretical work on the novel and counter-intuitive phases of matter that are now referred to as topological phases. Almost half a century after these researchers applied powerful mathematical techniques of topology to condensed matter systems, a new rapidly developing area is taking shape, now in the field of photonics. While very different in many respects from their condensed matter counterparts, topological phases of light share some of their unique properties that make topological photonics particularly suitable for practical applications. Just as the inventors of photonic crystals (often referred to as the “semiconductors of light”) borrowed crucial ideas, such as propagation bands, bandgaps, and Brillouin zone, from condensed matter physics, so do the researchers in the field of topological photonics that attempts to emulate the key concepts from low-dimensional topological materials. Those include photonic topological insulators (PTIs), reflection-less edge states that propagate along the domain walls of the PTIs, and spin-polarized/valley-polarized transport.

In this talk, Dr. Shvets will provide an overview of the field, with special emphasis on the photonic emulation of the canonical quantum topological phases such as the Hall, spin-Hall, and valley-Hall phases. He will then describe how such heterogeneous PTIs can be integrated and used for developing novel devices such as compact circulators. Experimental results demonstrating reflection-less transport of topologically protected edge states will be presented. He will also discuss how the ideas from topological photonics can be used for complete reimagining of the architectures of photonic devices such as add/drop filters, delay lines, and logical gates based on the valley degree of freedom of photons (“photonic valleytronics”). Finally, Dr. Shvets will discuss the prospects of realizing reconfigurable topological photonic structures on a nanoscale. The prospects for exciting topologically protected microwaves using high current beams, and using the latter for high-power magnets-free microwave radiation, will also be discussed.

Gennady Shvets

Professor of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University

Gennady Shvets is a Professor of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University. He received his PhD in Physics from MIT in 1995. Previously he has held research positions at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Before moving to Cornell in 2016, he was on the physics faculty of the University of Texas at Austin for 12 years. His research interests include nanophotonics, optical and microwave metamaterials and their applications (including bio-sensing, optoelectronic devices, and vacuum electronics), topological concepts in photonics, and ultra-intense laser-matter interactions. He is the author or co-author of more than 200 papers in refereed journals, including Science, Nature Physics, Nature Materials, Nature Photonics, Physical Review Letters, and Nano Letters. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and Optical Society of America (OSA).
Professor Shvets is one of the pioneers in the emerging field of plasmonic metamaterials, especially in the infrared part of the spectrum. His most recent work deals with the applications of metamaterials and plasmonics to infrared light generation and harvesting, concentrated solar energy and thermo-photovoltaic systems, biosensing and molecular fingerprinting of proteins and live cells using metamaterial arrays, optical imaging with sub-diffraction resolution using nanoparticle labels, photonic topological insulators, graphene-based metamaterials, and electron beam-driven metamaterials.

Prof. Shvets one of the co-inventors of the field of photonic topological metamaterials. He and his group developed several key concepts in topological photonics, including the emulation of quantum spin-Hall and quantum valley-Hall topological isolators, reflectionless guiding of photonic edge states around sharp bends, “perfect” refraction, and electron-beam driven topological metamaterials. His group implemented a variety of topological structures in the microwave frequency range. More recently, he became interested in active topological structures based on 2D materials, such as graphene, whose properties can be controlled using electric gating.


October 17, 2019
10:45 AM - 11:45 AM
Event Tags:


Materials Science and Engineering
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Auditorium, LRSM Building
3231 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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