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Four-dimensional physics in two dimensions

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17 October 2018

 

Illustration of light passing through a two-dimensional waveguide array. Each waveguide is essentially a tube, which behaves like a wire for light, inscribed through high-quality glass using a powerful laser. Many of these waveguides are inscribed closely spaced through a single piece of glass to form the array. Light that flows through the device behaves precisely according to the predictions of the four-dimensional quantum Hall effect. CREDIT: Rechtsman laboratory, Penn State University.Physicists have built a two-dimensional experimental system that allows them to study the physical properties of materials that were theorized only to exist in four-dimensional space. The researchers have demonstrated that the behavior of particles of light can be made to match predictions about the four-dimensional “quantum Hall effect” in a two-dimensional array of “waveguides.”

“It was theorized that the quantum Hall effect could be observed in four-dimensional space,” said Mikael Rechtsman, assistant professor of physics. “We have now shown that four-dimensional quantum Hall physics can be emulated using photons flowing through an intricately structured piece of glass—a waveguide array.”

Each waveguide is essentially a tube that behaves like a wire for light. This “tube” is inscribed through high-quality glass using a powerful laser. The complex patterns of the waveguide positions in the array act as a manifestation of higher dimensions. By encoding two extra synthetic dimensions into the complex geometric structure of the waveguides, the researchers were able to model the two-dimensional system as having four spatial dimensions. They then measured how light flowed through the device and found that it behaved precisely according to the predictions of the four-dimensional quantum Hall effect.

Read the full story at bit.ly/ECOSv2PR6