The Dirac-like dispersion in photonic systems makes it possible to mimic the dispersion of relativistic spin-1/2 particles, which led to the development of the concept of photonic topological insulators. Despite recent demonstrations of various topological photonic phases, the full potential offered by Dirac photonic systems, specifically their ability to emulate the spin degree of freedom—referred to as pseudo-spin—beyond topological boundary modes has remained underexplored. Here we demonstrate that photonic Dirac metasurfaces with smooth one-dimensional trapping gauge potentials serve as effective waveguides with modes carrying pseudo-spin. We show that spatially varying gauge potentials act unevenly on the two pseudo-spins due to their different field distributions, which enables control of guided modes by their spin, a property that is unattainable with conventional optical waveguides. Silicon nanophotonic metasurfaces are used to experimentally confirm the properties of these guided modes and reveal their distinct spin-dependent radiative character; modes of opposite pseudo-spin exhibit disparate radiative lifetimes and couple differently to incident light. The spin-dependent field distributions and radiative lifetimes of their guided modes indicate that photonic Dirac metasurfaces could be used for spin-multiplexing, controlling the characteristics of optical guided modes, and tuning light–matter interactions with photonic pseudo-spins.
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The work was supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) award N00014-21-1-2092 (A.B.K.), the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant DMR-1809915 (A.B.K.) and the Simons Collaboration on Extreme Wave Phenomena (A.B.K.). D.S. acknowledges support from the Australian Research Council (DE190100430). J.A. and M.A. thank AFRL/RW Emerging Technologies for their support. Fabrication of samples for this work was performed at the Nanofabrication Facility at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Kiriushechkina, S., Vakulenko, A., Smirnova, D. et al. Spin-dependent properties of optical modes guided by adiabatic trapping potentials in photonic Dirac metasurfaces. Nat. Nanotechnol. 18, 875–881 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-023-01380-9
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