Topological photonic crystal fibers and ring resonators

With an exact recursive approach, we study photonic crystal fibers and resonators with topological features induced by Aubry–Andre–Harper cladding modulation. We find nontrivial gaps and edge states at the interface between regions with different topological invariants. These structures show topological protection against symmetry-preserving local perturbations that do not close the gap and sustain strong field localization and energy concentration at a given radial distance. As topological light guiding and trapping devices, they may bring about many opportunities for both fundamentals and applications unachievable with conventional devices.

Laura Pilozzi et al. Optics Letters 45, 1415 (2020)

Simulating general relativity and non-commutative geometry by nonparaxial quantum fluids

We show that quantum fluids enable experimental analogs of relativistic orbital precession in the presence of non-paraxial effects. The analysis is performed by the hydrodynamic limit of the Schroedinger equation. The non-commutating variables in the phase-space produce a precession and an acceleration of the orbital motion. The precession of the orbit is formally identical to the famous orbital precession of the perihelion of Mercury used by Einstein to validate the corrections of general relativity to Newton’s theory. In our case, the corrections are due to the modified uncertainty principle. The results may enable novel relativistic analogs in the laboratory, also including sub Planckian phenomenology.

Controlling rogue waves and soliton gases

Topological control of extreme waves

From optics to hydrodynamics, shock and rogue waves are widespread. Although they appear as distinct phenomena, transitions between extreme waves are allowed. However, these have never been experimentally observed because control strategies are still missing. We introduce the new concept of topological control based on the one-to-one correspondence between the number of wave packet oscillating phases and the genus of toroidal surfaces associated with the nonlinear Schrödinger equation solutions through Riemann theta functions. We demonstrate the concept experimentally by reporting observations of supervised transitions between waves with different genera. Considering the box problem in a focusing photorefractive medium, we tailor the time-dependent nonlinearity and dispersion to explore each region in the state diagram of the nonlinear wave propagation. Our result is the first realization of topological control of nonlinear waves. This new technique casts light on shock and rogue waves generation and can be extended to other nonlinear phenomena.

Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 5090 (2019)

Optical spatial shock waves in nonlocal nonlinear media, a review paper

Dispersive shock waves are fascinating phenomena occurring when nonlinearity overwhelms linear effects, such as dispersion and diffraction. Many features of shock waves are still under investigation, as the interplay with noninstantaneity in temporal pulses transmission and nonlocality in spatial beams propagation. Despite the rich and vast literature on nonlinear waves in optical Kerr media, spatial dispersive shock waves in nonlocal materials deserve further attention for their unconventional properties. Indeed, they have been investigated in colloidal matter, chemical physics and biophotonics, for sensing and control of extreme phenomena. Here we review the last developed theoretical models and recent optical experiments on spatial dispersive shock waves in nonlocal media. Moreover, we discuss observations in novel versatile materials relevant for soft matter and biology.

Review Paper in Advances in Physics X

Multipolar terahertz spectroscopy by graphene plasmons

Terahertz absorption spectroscopy plays a key role in physical, chemical and biological systems as a powerful tool to identify molecular species through their rotational spectrum fingerprint. Owing to the sub-nanometer scale of molecules, radiation-matter coupling is typically dominated by dipolar interaction. Here we show that multipolar rotational spectroscopy of molecules in proximity of localized graphene structures can be accessed through the extraordinary enhancement of their multipolar transitions provided by terahertz plasmons. In particular, specializing our calculations to homonuclear diatomic molecules, we demonstrate that a micron-sized graphene ring with a nano-hole at the core combines a strong near-field enhancement and an inherently pronounced field localization enabling the enhancement of the dipole-forbidden terahertz absorption cross-section of H+2H2+ by 8 orders of magnitude. Our results shed light on the strong potential offered by nano-structured graphene as a robust and electrically tunable platform for multipolar terahertz absorption spectroscopy at the nanoscale.

A. Ciattoni, C. Conti, and A. Marini in Communication Physics