Strain-induced pseudomagnetic field and photonic Landau levels in dielectric structures


Magnetic effects at optical frequencies are notoriously weak, so magneto-optical devices must be large to create a sufficient effect. In graphene, it has been shown that inhomogeneous strains can induce ‘pseudomagnetic fields’ that behave in a similar manner to real ones. Here, we show experimentally and theoretically that it is possible to induce such a field at optical frequencies in a photonic lattice. To our knowledge, this is the first realization of a pseudomagnetic field in optics. The field yields ‘photonic Landau levels’ separated by bandgaps in the spatial spectrum of the structured dielectric lattice. The gaps between these highly degenerate levels lead to transverse optical confinement. The use of strain allows for the exploration of magnetic-like effects in a non-resonant way that would be otherwise inaccessible in optics. It also suggests the possibility that aperiodic photonic-crystal structures can achieve greater field enhancement and slow-light effects than periodic structures via high density of states at the Landau levels. Generalizing these concepts to systems beyond optics, such as matter waves in optical potentials, offers new intriguing physics that is fundamentally different from that in purely periodic structures.

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Figure 1: Description of honeycomb photonic lattice and band structure.
Figure 2: Effect of strain on the eigenvalue spectrum of the honeycomb photonic lattice.
Figure 3: Experimental and simulation results for increasing strain.
Figure 4: Effect of a defect waveguide on beam confinement.


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M.C.R. acknowledges the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli fellowship. A.S. acknowledges support from the German Ministry of Education and Research (Center for Innovation Competence programme, grant 03Z1HN31). M.S. acknowledges support from the Israel Science Foundation, the USA–Israel Binational Science Foundation, and the Advanced Grant by the European Research Council.

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M.C.R. and J.M.Z. contributed equally. All authors contributed significantly.

Correspondence to Mikael C. Rechtsman.

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Rechtsman, M., Zeuner, J., Tünnermann, A. et al. Strain-induced pseudomagnetic field and photonic Landau levels in dielectric structures. Nature Photon 7, 153–158 (2013) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2012.302

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