2018 New Investigator Grant
Bo Zhen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania
Creating Anyons in Optical Fibers
The dimensionality of a universe governs the properties of the elementary particles contained within it. For example, in spaces of three or higher dimensions, two types of elementary particles can exist: fermions and bosons, each defined by it statistical properties. However, in spaces of lower dimensions, a third type of elementary particles, named anyons, can exist. Due to their unique statistical properties, anyons are not only interesting from the fundamental perspective but also useful for applications such as quantum information processing. So far, most of the research efforts focus on searching for anyons in electronic systems, which are often hindered in practice due to the stringent requirement of cryogenic temperature and the need of exotic materials. Here, we propose a fundamentally different approach: to construct anyons from photons, in particular to create emergent anyonic excitations in the ground state of strongly-interacting optical parametric oscillators placed in a non-Abelian gauge field. Successful completion of the project will not only open a nascent research field of many-body topological physics in optical systems, but also have significant impacts in classical optoelectronic devices and topologically-protected quantum computation.