Four-dimensional integrated photonic devices – New technique to introduce an extra ‘synthetic’ dimension to an array

The dream for integrated photonics is to develop on-chip optical components that could eventually replace electronic circuits by offering greater speed, energy efficiency, and potential for miniaturization. Inspired by this goal, many innovative photonics devices are currently being designed, e.g., arrays of micro-scale waveguides to control the propagation of photons on a silicon chip.1–4 Along with these advances, some surprising connections to other areas of physics, such as condensed matter and ultracold atomic gases, have also been discovered. This has ignited the hope that integrated photonics could be useful—not only for applications—but also to cast light on cutting-edge research topics in fundamental science.

The silicon micro-ring resonator is an important workhorse within integrated photonics. In these devices, light resonates around a ring, akin to a quiet whisper traveling around the edge of a circular room. In a periodic array of such ring waveguides, photons can ‘hop’ between different rings (analogous to electrons tunneling between atoms in a crystal). It is well known from solid-state physics that this simple starting point leads to many interesting phenomena. For example, the behavior of the photons will depend on the dimensionality and geometry of the resonator array, which provides great design flexibility.Read more


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