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Topological polaritons in atomically thin metasurfaces

Project Description

Joint supervisors: Prof Saverio Russo, Dr Eros Mariani, Prof Bill Barnes


Statement of Research

One of the technological breakthroughs expected in the near future will involve the switch from computing devices where information is carried by electrons – usually rather slow and prone to dissipative heating – to new paradigms where light itself is encoding and transporting information at much higher speed with perfect efficiency in ultra thin devices.

The goal of this project is to experimentally unveil the novel quasiparticles – termed “topological polaritons” – at the heart of this technological breakthrough. These half-light half-matter particles transport radiation through metasurfaces based on nanopatterned atomically thin materials embedded in photonic cavities.

Topological polaritons are theoretically predicted [1] to inherit some of the remarkable properties of Dirac electrons in graphene, among which their perfect transmission through barriers (Klein tunnelling) which will be key for the efficiency of radiation transport in the metasurface. Exploiting the hybrid nature of polaritons as a mixture of light and matter constituents, we will qualitatively change their properties by acting on their light-component via the photonic cavity, something impossible to do with electrons in

We will unveil the dispersion of topological polaritons and, via the cavity height, control their propagation speed, slowing down or even stopping them, and modify their internal chiral structure.
This work will pioneer the development of efficient all-photonic devices where topological polaritons encode and transmit information that can be tuned in a simple, controllable and reversible way.

This interdisciplinary project builds on successful collaborations between the groups of the three supervisors. Highlights include the theoretical work on Dirac polaritons [1] and the experimental work on strong-coupling microcavities [2].

[1] C. Mann et al., Nature Communications 9, 2194 (2018)
[2] F. Pizarro et al., IEEE Xplore Digital Library, DOI:10.1109/CLEOE-EQEC.2017.8087607 (2017).

Funding Notes

This exciting 3.5 year project is for self-funded students only. You need to be able to cover at least fees (UK/EU approx. £4,320 per year; International approx. £23,700 per year) and your living expenses (minimum of £15,000 per year is recommended).

International applicants seeking a scholarship should consider the Global Excellence Scholarships scheme (View Website; deadline 4 March 2019), and to contact in advance of any application.

Sanctuary Scholarships (View Website; deadline 17 May 2019) are also available.

In exceptional circumstances the College may be able to waive the additional study fees for international applicants.

How good is research at University of Exeter in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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