Artificial gauge fields in the t-z mapping for optical pulses: spatio-temporal wavepacket control and quantum Hall physics

Published in Science Advances, 2023

Christopher Oliver, Sebabrata Mukherjee, Mikael C. Rechtsman, Iacopo Carusotto, Hannah M. Price
Science Advances 9, 42 (2023)

We extend the t−z mapping formalism of time-dependent paraxial optics by identifying configurations displaying a synthetic magnetic vector potential, leading to a non-trivial band topology in propagating geometries. We consider an inhomogeneous 1D array of coupled optical waveguides beyond the standard monochromatic approximation, and show that the wave equation describing paraxial propagation of optical pulses can be recast in the form of a Schrödinger equation, including a synthetic magnetic field whose strength can be controlled via the transverse spatial gradient of the waveguide properties across the array. We use an experimentally-motivated model of a laser-written waveguide array to demonstrate that this synthetic magnetic field can be engineered in realistic setups and can produce interesting observable effects such as cyclotron motion, a controllable Hall drift of the wavepacket displacement in space or time, and unidirectional propagation in chiral edge states. These results significantly extend the variety of physics that can be explored within propagating geometries and pave the way for exploiting this platform for higher-dimensional topological physics and strongly correlated fluids of light.