Spin-orbit coupling in a hexagonal ring of pendula

Published in New Journal of Physics, 2017

Grazia Salerno, Alice Berardo, Tomoki Ozawa, Hannah M. Price, Ludovic Taxis, Nicola M. Pugno & Iacopo Carusotto
New J. Phys. 19 055001 (2017)



We consider the mechanical motion of a system of six macroscopic pendula which are connected with springs and arranged in a hexagonal geometry. When the springs are pre-tensioned, the coupling between neighbouring pendula along the longitudinal (L) and the transverse (T) directions are different: identifying the motion along the L and T directions as the two components of a spin-like degree of freedom, we theoretically and experimentally verify that the pre-tensioned springs result in a tunable spin–orbit coupling. We elucidate the structure of such a spin–orbit coupling in the extended two-dimensional honeycomb lattice, making connections to physics of graphene. The experimental frequencies and the oscillation patterns of the eigenmodes for the hexagonal ring of pendula are extracted from a spectral analysis of the motion of the pendula in response to an external excitation and are found to be in good agreement with our theoretical predictions. We anticipate that extending this classical analogue of quantum mechanical spin–orbit coupling to two-dimensional lattices will lead to exciting new topological phenomena in classical mechanics.