August 2013
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Day August 22, 2013

Nonreciprocal light transmission in parity-time-symmetric whispering-gallery microcavities

Bo Peng, Sahin Kaya Ozdemir, Fuchuan Lei, Faraz Monifi, Mariagiovanna Gianfreda, Gui Lu Long, Shanhui Fan, Franco Nori, Carl M. Bender, Lan Yang

Optical systems combining balanced loss and gain profiles provide a unique platform to implement classical analogues of quantum systems described by non-Hermitian parity-time- (PT-) symmetric Hamiltonians and to originate new synthetic materials with novel properties. To date, experimental works on PT-symmetric optical systems have been limited to waveguides in which resonances do not play a role. Here we report the first demonstration of PT-symmetry breaking in optical resonator systems by using two directly coupled on-chip optical whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) microtoroid silica resonators. Gain in one of the resonators is provided by optically pumping Erbium (Er3+) ions embedded in the silica matrix; the other resonator exhibits passive loss. The coupling strength between the resonators is adjusted by using nanopositioning stages to tune their distance. We have observed reciprocal behavior of the PT-symmetric system in the linear regime, as well as a transition to nonreciprocity in the PT symmetry-breaking phase transition due to the significant enhancement of nonlinearity in the broken-symmetry phase. Our results represent a significant advance towards a new generation of synthetic optical systems enabling on-chip manipulation and control of light propagation.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4564
Optics (physics.optics); Materials Science (cond-mat.mtrl-sci); Mathematical Physics (math-ph); Classical Physics (physics.class-ph); Quantum Physics (quant-ph)