Breakthrough in Photon-Phonon Fusion: A New Way to Combine Two Different States of Matter


Breakthrough in Photon-Phonon Fusion: A New Way to Combine Two Different States of Matter

A team from City College of New York has discovered a revolutionary technique to mix two different states of matter in new research. Topological photons—light—have been paired with lattice vibrations, commonly known as phonons, for the first time to regulate their propagation in a robust and controllable fashion.

The work made use of topological photonics, an emerging discipline of photonics that applies fundamental notions from topology to conserved values (topological invariants) that remain constant when parts of a geometric entity are deformed continuously. One of the simplest instances of such invariants is the number of holes, which, for example, makes a donut and a cup topologically equal. When photons spin as they propagate, the topological features endow them with helicity, resulting in unique and unexpected characteristics such as defect resistance and unidirectional propagation along interfaces between topologically dissimilar materials. These helical photons can then be employed to channel infrared light and vibrations thanks to interactions with crystal vibrations.

This finding has far-reaching consequences, including advancing Raman spectroscopy, which is used to determine the vibrational modes of molecules. Vibrational spectroscopy, often known as infrared spectroscopy, is a technique for measuring the interaction of infrared light with matter via absorption, emission, or reflection. This can then be used to investigate, describe, and identify chemical compounds.

“In hexagonal boron nitride, we combined helical photons with lattice vibrations to create phonon-polaritons,” stated Alexander Khanikaev, principal author and physicist affiliated with CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering. “It’s half light and half vibrations,” says the narrator. We constructed new pathways for light and heat propagation since infrared light and lattice vibrations are linked to heat. Lattice vibrations are notoriously difficult to control, and guiding them around faults and abrupt edges was previously impossible.” The novel technology can also be used to accomplish directional radiative heat transfer, which is a type of energy transfer in which heat is dissipated by electromagnetic waves.

Dr. Sriram Guddala, a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Khanikaev’s lab and the manuscript’s lead author, stated, “We can design channels of arbitrary shape for this sort of hybrid light and matter excitations to be steered along within a two-dimensional material we created.” “This approach also allows us to change the direction of vibration propagation along these channels, from forward to backward, merely by changing the incident polarization handedness… Summary of the latest news from Brinkwire.


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