Optical lattices with exceptional points in the continuum

S. Longhi, G. Della Valle

The spectral, dynamical and topological properties of physical systems described by non-Hermitian (including PT-symmetric) Hamiltonians are deeply modified by the appearance of exceptional points and spectral singularities. Here we show that exceptional points in the continuum can arise in non-Hermitian (yet admitting and entirely real-valued energy spectrum) optical lattices with engineered defects. At an exceptional point, the lattice sustains a bound state with an energy embedded in the spectrum of scattered states, similar to the von-Neumann Wigner bound states in the continuum of Hermitian lattices. However, the dynamical and scattering properties of the bound state at an exceptional point are deeply different from those of ordinary von-Neumann Wigner bound states in an Hermitian system. In particular, the bound state in the continuum at an exceptional point is an unstable state that can secularly grow by an infinitesimal perturbation. Such properties are discussed in details for transport of discretized light in a PT-symmetric array of coupled optical waveguides, which could provide an experimentally accessible system to observe exceptional points in the continuum.


Quantum Physics (quant-ph); Optics (physics.optics)

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