Flying couplers above spinning resonators generate irreversible refraction

Shai Maayani, Raphael Dahan, Yuri Kligerman, Eduard Moses, Absar U. Hassan, Hui Jing, Franco Nori, Demetrios N. Christodoulides, Tal Carmon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Creating optical components that allow light to propagate in only one direction - that is, that allow non-reciprocal propagation or 'isolation' of light - is important for a range of applications. Non-reciprocal propagation of sound can be achieved simply by using mechanical components that spin 1,2 . Spinning also affects de Broglie waves 3, so a similar idea could be applied in optics. However, the extreme rotation rates that would be required, owing to light travelling much faster than sound, lead to unwanted wobbling. This wobbling makes it difficult to maintain the separation between the spinning devices and the couplers to within tolerance ranges of several nanometres, which is essential for critical coupling 4,5 . Consequently, previous applications of optical 6-17 and optomechanical 10,17-20 isolation have used alternative methods. In hard-drive technology, the magnetic read heads of a hard-disk drive fly aerodynamically above the rapidly rotating disk with nanometre precision, separated by a thin film of air with near-zero drag that acts as a lubrication layer 21 . Inspired by this, here we report the fabrication of photonic couplers (tapered fibres that couple light into the resonators) that similarly fly above spherical resonators with a separation of only a few nanometres. The resonators spin fast enough to split their counter-circulating optical modes, making the fibre coupler transparent from one side while simultaneously opaque from the other - that is, generating irreversible transmission. Our setup provides 99.6 per cent isolation of light in standard telecommunication fibres, of the type used for fibre-based quantum interconnects 22 . Unlike flat geometries, such as between a magnetic head and spinning disk, the saddle-like, convex geometry of the fibre and sphere in our setup makes it relatively easy to bring the two closer together, which could enable surface-science studies at nanometre-scale separations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-572
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume558
Issue number7711
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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