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.
Nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers in diamond have emerged as promising room-temperature quantum sensors for probing condensed matter phenomena ranging from spin liquids, two-dimensional (2D) magnetic materials, and magnons to hydrodynamic flow of current. Here we propose and demonstrate that the nitrogen-vacancy center in diamond can be used as a quantum sensor for detecting the photonic spin density, the spatial distribution of light’s spin angular momentum. We exploit a single spin qubit on an atomic force microscope tip to probe the spinning field of an incident Gaussian light beam. The spinning field of light induces an effective static magnetic field in the single spin qubit probe. We perform room-temperature sensing using Bloch sphere operations driven by a microwave field (XY8 protocol). This nanoscale quantum magnetometer can measure the local polarization of light in ultra-sub-wavelength volumes. We also put forth a rigorous theory of the experimentally measured phase change using the NV center Hamiltonian and perturbation theory involving only virtual photon transitions. The direct detection of the photonic spin density at the nanoscale using NV centers in diamond opens interesting quantum metrological avenues for studying exotic phases of photons, nanoscale properties of structured light as well as future on-chip applications in spin quantum electrodynamics.
When a neutral sphere is rotating near a surface in vacuum, it will experience a frictional torque due to quantum and thermal electromagnetic fluctuations. Such vacuum friction has attracted many interests but has been too weak to be observed. Here we investigate the vacuum frictional torque on a barium strontium titanate (BST) nanosphere near a BST surface. BST is a perovskite ferroelectric ceramic that can have large dielectric responses at GHz frequencies. At resonant rotating frequencies, the mechanical energy of motion can be converted to electromagnetic energy through resonant photon tunneling, leading to a large enhancement of the vacuum friction. The calculated vacuum frictional torques at resonances at subGHz and GHz frequencies are several orders larger than the minimum torque measured by an optically levitated nanorotor recently, and are thus promising to be observed experimentally. Moreover, we calculate the vacuum friction on a rotating sphere near a layered surface for the first time. By optimizing the thickness of the thin-film coating, the frictional torque can be further enhanced by several times.
Over the past decade, topology has emerged as a major branch in broad areas of physics, from atomic lattices to condensed matter. In particular, topology has received significant attention in photonics because light waves can serve as a platform to investigate nontrivial bulk and edge physics with the aid of carefully engineered photonic crystals and metamaterials. Simultaneously, photonics provides enriched physics that arises from spin-1 vectorial electromagnetic fields. Here, we review recent progress in the growing field of topological photonics in three parts. The first part is dedicated to the basics of topological band theory and introduces various two-dimensional topological phases. The second part reviews three-dimensional topological phases and numerous approaches to achieve them in photonics. Last, we present recently emerging fields in topological photonics that have not yet been reviewed. This part includes topological degeneracies in nonzero dimensions, unidirectional Maxwellian spin waves, higher-order photonic topological phases, and stacking of photonic crystals to attain layer pseudospin. In addition to the various approaches for realizing photonic topological phases, we also discuss the interaction between light and topological matter and the efforts towards practical applications of topological photonics.
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.
The interplay of spin angular momentum and thermal radiation is a frontier area of interest to nanophotonics as well as topological physics. Here, we show that a thick planar slab of a nonreciprocal material, despite being at thermal equilibrium with its environment, can exhibit nonzero photon spin angular momentum and nonzero radiative heat flux in its vicinity. We identify them as the persistent thermal photon spin and the persistent planar heat current respectively. With a practical example system, we reveal that the fundamental origin of these phenomena is connected to the spin-momentum locking of thermally excited evanescent waves. We also discover spin magnetic moment of surface polaritons that further clarifies these features. We then propose an imaging experiment based on Brownian motion that allows one to witness these surprising features by directly looking at them using a lab microscope. We further demonstrate the universal behavior of these near-field thermal radiation phenomena through a comprehensive analysis of gyroelectric, gyromagnetic and magneto-electric nonreciprocal materials. Together, these results expose a surprisingly little explored research area of thermal spin photonics with prospects for new avenues related to non-Hermitian topological photonics and radiative heat transport.
Single atoms form a model system for understanding the limits of single-photon detection. Here, we develop a non-Markovian theory of single-photon absorption by a two-level atom to place limits on the absorption (transduction) time. We show the existence of a finite rise time in the probability of excitation of the atom during the absorption event which is infinitely fast in previous Markov theories. This rise time is governed by the bandwidth of the atom-field interaction spectrum and leads to a fundamental jitter in time stamping the absorption event. Our theoretical framework captures both the weak and strong atom-field coupling regimes and sheds light on the spectral matching between the interaction bandwidth and single-photon Fock state pulse spectrum. Our work opens questions whether such jitter in the absorption event can be observed in a multimode realistic single-photon detector. Finally, we also shed light on the fundamental differences between linear and nonlinear detector outputs for single-photon Fock-state vs coherent-state pulses.
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.
The temporal dynamics of large quantum systems perturbed weakly by a single excitation can give rise to unique phenomena at the quantum phase boundaries. Here, we develop a time-dependent model to study the temporal dynamics of a single photon interacting with a defect within a large system of interacting spin qubits (N > 100). Our model predicts a quantum resource, giant susceptibility, when the system of qubits is engineered to simulate a first-order quantum phase transition (QPT). We show that the absorption of a single-photon pulse by an engineered defect in the large qubit system can nucleate a single shot quantum measurement through spin noise read-out. This concept of a single-shot detection event (“click”) is different from parameter estimation, which requires repeated measurements. The crucial step of amplifying the weak quantum signal occurs by coupling the defect to a system of interacting qubits biased close to a QPT point. The macroscopic change in long-range order during the QPT generates amplified magnetic noise, which can be read out by a classical device. Our work paves the way for studying the temporal dynamics of large quantum systems interacting with a single-photon pulse.
We derive a unified quantum theory of coherent and incoherent energy transfer between two atoms (donor and acceptor) valid in arbitrary Markovian nanophotonic environments. Our theory predicts a fundamental bound 𝜂𝑚𝑎𝑥=𝛾𝑎𝛾𝑑+𝛾𝑎ηmax=γaγd+γa for energy transfer efficiency arising from the spontaneous emission rates γd and γa of the donor and acceptor. We propose the control of the acceptor spontaneous emission rate as a new design principle for enhancing energy transfer efficiency. We predict an experiment using mirrors to enhance the efficiency bound by exploiting the dipole orientations of the donor and acceptor. Of fundamental interest, we show that while quantum coherence implies the ultimate efficiency bound has been reached, reaching the ultimate efficiency does not require quantum coherence. Our work paves the way towards nanophotonic analogues of efficiency-enhancing environments known in quantum biological systems.
We discover the quantum analog of the well-known classical maximum power transfer theorem. Our theoretical framework considers the continuous steady-state problem of coherent energy transfer through an N-node bosonic network coupled to an external dissipative load. We present an exact solution for optimal power transfer in the form of the maximum power transfer theorem known in the design of electrical circuits. Furthermore, we introduce the concept of quantum impedance matching with Thevenin equivalent networks, which are shown to be exact analogs to their classical counterparts. Our results are applicable to both ordered and disordered quantum networks with graph-like structures ranging from nearest-neighbor to all-to-all connectivities. This work points towards universal design principles adapting ideas from the classical regime to the quantum domain for various quantum optical applications in energy harvesting, wireless power transfer, and energy transduction.
The concept of photonic frequency-momentum (ω-q) dispersion has been extensively studied in artificial dielectric structures such as photonic crystals and metamaterials. However, the ω-q dispersion of electrodynamic waves hosted in natural materials at the atomistic level is far less explored. Here, we develop a Maxwell Hamiltonian theory of matter combined with the quantum theory of atomistic polarization to obtain the electrodynamic dispersion of natural materials interacting with the photon field. We apply this theory to silicon and discover the existence of anomalous atomistic waves. These waves occur in the spectral region where propagating waves are conventionally forbidden in a macroscopic theory. Our findings demonstrate that natural media can host a variety of yet to be discovered waves with subnanometer effective wavelengths in the picophotonics regime.
Engineering symmetries in nanostructures and metasurfaces provides a new paradigm to control incoherent heat radiation for applications in energy conversion, thermal sources, infrared imaging, and radiative cooling.