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Topologically protected bound states in photonic parity-time-symmetric crystals

: Weimann, S.; Kremer, M.; Plotnik, Y.; Lumer, Y.; Nolte, S.; Makris, K.G.; Segev, M.; Rechtsman, M.C.; Szameit, A.


Nature Materials 16 (2017), S.433-438
ISSN: 1476-1122
ISSN: 1476-4660
Fraunhofer IOF ()

Parity–time (PT)-symmetric crystals are a class of non-Hermitian systems that allow, for example, the existence of modes with real propagation constants, for self-orthogonality of propagating modes, and for uni-directional invisibility at defects. Photonic PT-symmetric systems that also support topological states could be useful for shaping and routing light waves. However, it is currently debated whether topological interface states can exist at all in PT-symmetric systems. Here, we show theoretically and demonstrate experimentally the existence of such states: states that are localized at the interface between two topologically distinct PT-symmetric photonic lattices. We find analytical closed form solutions of topological PT-symmetric interface states, and observe them through fluorescence microscopy in a passive PT-symmetric dimerized photonic lattice. Our results are relevant towards approaches to localize light on the interface between non-Hermitian crystals.