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Wave and defect dynamics in nonlinear photonic quasicrystals

Abstract

Quasicrystals are unique structures with long-range order but no periodicity. Their properties have intrigued scientists ever since their discovery1 and initial theoretical analysis2,3. The lack of periodicity excludes the possibility of describing quasicrystal structures with well-established analytical tools, including common notions like Brillouin zones and Bloch's theorem. New and unique features such as fractal-like band structures4,5,6,7 and ‘phason’ degrees of freedom8 are introduced. In general, it is very difficult to directly observe the evolution of electronic waves in solid-state atomic quasicrystals, or the dynamics of the structure itself. Here we use optical induction9,10,11 to create two-dimensional photonic quasicrystals, whose macroscopic nature allows us to explore wave transport phenomena. We demonstrate that light launched at different quasicrystal sites travels through the lattice in a way equivalent to quantum tunnelling of electrons in a quasiperiodic potential. At high intensity, lattice solitons are formed. Finally, we directly observe dislocation dynamics when crystal sites are allowed to interact with each other. Our experimental results apply not only to photonics, but also to other quasiperiodic systems such as matter waves in quasiperiodic traps12, generic pattern-forming systems as in parametrically excited surface waves13, liquid quasicrystals14, and the more familiar atomic quasicrystals.

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Figure 1: Photonic quasicrystal and its extended Brillouin zone map.
Figure 2: Discrete diffraction and lattice solitons in a photonic quasicrystal.
Figure 3: Creation and healing of a dislocation in a decagonal quasicrystal.
Figure 4: Creation and healing of a dislocation in a periodic hexagonal crystal.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Israeli Science Foundation, the Israel-USA Binational Science Foundation and the German-Israeli DIP Project.

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Correspondence to Jason W. Fleischer.

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Freedman, B., Bartal, G., Segev, M. et al. Wave and defect dynamics in nonlinear photonic quasicrystals. Nature 440, 1166–1169 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04722

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