Optical bound states in the continuum (BICs) are states supported by a photonic structure that are compatible with free-space radiation, yet become perfectly bound for one specific in-plane momentum and wavelength1,2. Recently, it was predicted that light radiated by such modes around the BIC momentum–frequency condition should display a vortex in its far-field polarization profile, making the BIC topologically protected3. Here, we study a one-dimensional grating supporting a transverse magnetic mode with a BIC near 700 nm wavelength, verifying the existence of the BIC using reflection measurements, which show a vanishing reflection feature. Using k-space polarimetry, we measure the full polarization state of reflection around the BIC, highlighting the presence of a topological vortex. We use an electromagnetic dipole model to explain the observed BIC through destructive interference between two radiation channels, characteristic of a Friedrich–Wintgen-type BIC4. Our findings shed light on the origin of BICs and verify their topological nature.

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This work is part of the research programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and was performed at the research institute AMOLF. The authors thank R. Struik for the design used in Fig. 1. A.A. and F.M. acknowledge support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (MURI grant no. FA9550-17-1-0002), the Simons Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation (grant no. F-1802).

Author information


  1. Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute, Institute of Physics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    • Hugo M. Doeleman
    •  & A. Femius Koenderink
  2. Center for Nanophotonics, AMOLF, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    • Hugo M. Doeleman
    • , Wouter den Hollander
    •  & A. Femius Koenderink
  3. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

    • Francesco Monticone
  4. Photonics Initiative, Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA

    • Andrea Alù
  5. Physics Program, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA

    • Andrea Alù
  6. Department of Electrical Engineering, City College of The City University of New York, New York, NY, USA

    • Andrea Alù


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F.M., A.A. and A.F.K. initiated the research project, and A.A. and A.F.K. supervised throughout the project. All reflection and polarimetry experiments, as well as their analysis, were carried out by H.M.D., under the supervision of A.F.K. RCWA and full-wave simulations were performed by F.M. Dipole model calculations were carried out by H.M.D. and F.M. Sample fabrication and calibration of the experimental set-up were done by W.d.H. All authors discussed the results and were involved in writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Femius Koenderink.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary discussion; Supplementary Figures 1–10; Supplementary References 1–8.

  2. Supplementary Video 1

    Reflection, vertical polarization.

  3. Supplementary Video 2

    Reflection, horizontal polarization.

  4. Supplementary Video 3

    Eigenmode field distribution.

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