02 - PhoToMaD - Photonic Topological Materials with Disorder

The aim of this proposal is to promote the understanding of new physical phenomena in disordered photonic topological materials, by using coupled optical waveguide systems. In particular, our theoretical and experimental research will address

  1. Studies of topologically protected edge transport in disordered media with broken time-reversal symmetry (i.e., a topological Anderson insulator);
  2. Studies of edge and bulk transport in disordered non-hermitian topological media;
  3. Studies of nonlinear wave dynamics in disordered topological media (with either broken time-reversal symmetry or non-hermiticity).

Hence, in our proposal we address multiple key points of the SPP 1839 Tailored Disorder, which are moreover of fundamental importance for the understanding of wave physics in topological materials. Apart from revealing new and fundamental scientific knowledge, which is based on our sophisticated approach of using a highly controllable optical system (i.e., arrays of evanescently coupled waveguides), our results will have immediate technological significance, as they can be used in telecommunication and photonic data processing. We will take advantage of our superior fabrication technology that allows the individual addressing of numerous physical questions. We will combine the experimental work with theoretical analysis, in order to explain our results thoroughly and optimize device performance. The objectives of the proposed work are:

  1. We will demonstrate, for the first time in any physical system, a topological Anderson insulator, in which disorder facilitates the formation of topologically protected one-way edge states;
  2. We will investigate, theoretically and experimentally, the impact of disorder on non-hermitian systems. Particular focus is given on PT-symmetric systems, where all eigenvalues are real;
  3. We will analyze soliton formation in disordered photonic topological materials, in hermitian and non-hermitian systems, theoretically and experimentally.

We will determine the regime of existence of such solitons, determine their stability and dynamical properties.


  • Prof. Alexander Szameit