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Nonlinear mode competition and symmetry-protected power oscillations in topological lasers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Article number063044
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/06/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>New Journal of Physics
Number of pages18
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Topological photonics started out as a pursuit to engineer systems that mimicfermionic single-particle Hamiltonians with symmetry-protected modes,whose number can only change in spectral phase transitions such as bandinversions. The paradigm of topologicallasing, realizedin three recent experiments, offers entirely new interpretations of these states, as they can be selectively amplified by distributed gain and loss. A key question is whether such topologicalmode selection persists when one accountsfor the nonlinearities that stabilize these systems at their working point. Here we show that topological defect lasers can indeed stably operate in genuinely topological states. These comprise direct analogues of zeromodes from the linear setting, as well as a novel class of states displaying symmetry-protected power oscillations, which appear in a spectral phase transition when the gain is increased. These effects show a remarkable practical resilience against imperfections, even if these break the underlying symmetries, and pave the way
to harness the power of topological protection in nonlinear quantum devices