Photonics Insights, Volume. 1, Issue 1, R02(2022)

Topological photonics in metamaterials

Shaojie Ma1, Biao Yang2, and Shuang Zhang1,3、*
Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Physics, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  • 2College of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha, China
  • 3Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
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    Originally a pure mathematical concept, topology has been vigorously developed in various physical systems in recent years, and underlies many interesting phenomena such as the quantum Hall effect and quantum spin Hall effect. Its widespread influence in physics led the award of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics to this field. Topological photonics further expands the research field of topology to classical wave systems and holds promise for novel devices and applications, e.g., topological quantum computation and topological lasers. Here, we review recent developments in topological photonics but focus mainly on their realizations based on metamaterials. Through artificially designed resonant units, metamaterials provide vast degrees of freedom for realizing various topological states, e.g., the Weyl point, nodal line, Dirac point, topological insulator, and even the Yang monopole and Weyl surface in higher-dimensional synthetic spaces, wherein each specific topological nontrivial state endows novel metamaterial responses that originate from the feature of some high-energy physics.


    1 Introduction

    In geometry, topology[1] concerns the global features of a shape, independent of the detail—a famous example being that a coffee mug and a torus are topologically equivalent because they can be smoothly transformed into each other without experiencing dramatic changes, e.g., opening holes, tearing, gluing. The Euler characteristic χ is introduced to describe such a global invariant, which is defined by the integral of the Gaussian curvature K over a closed surface, χ=12πSK·dAZ, which is always an integer. Hence, it cannot vary continuously and is topologically stable. The surfaces of a sphere (χ=2) and torus (χ=0) are distinguished topologically by their Euler characteristics χ.


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    Shaojie Ma, Biao Yang, Shuang Zhang. Topological photonics in metamaterials[J]. Photonics Insights, 2022, 1(1): R02

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    Paper Information

    Category: Reviews

    Received: Feb. 16, 2022

    Accepted: May. 19, 2022

    Published Online: Aug. 3, 2022

    The Author Email: Zhang Shuang (



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