Reconfigurable refraction manipulation at synthetic temporal interfaces with scalar and vector gauge potentials

Ye, Han; Qin, Chengzhi; Wang, Shulin; Zhao, Lange ; Liu, Weiwei; Wang, Bing; Longhi, Stefano; Lu, Peixiang
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120, e2300860120 (1-8) (2023)

Photonic gauge potentials, including scalar and vector ones, play fundamental roles in emulating photonic topological effects and for enabling intriguing light transport dynamics. While previous studies mainly focus on manipulating light propagation in uniformly distributed gauge potentials, here we create a series of gauge-potential interfaces with different orientations in a nonuniform discrete-time quantum walk and demonstrate various reconfigurable temporal-refraction effects. We show that for a lattice-site interface with the potential step along the lattice direction, the scalar potentials can yield total internal reflection (TIR) or Klein tunneling, while vector potentials manifest direction-invariant refractions. We also reveal the existence of penetration depth for the temporal TIR by demonstrating frustrated TIR with a double lattice-site interface structure. By contrast, for an interface emerging in the time-evolution direction, the scalar potentials have no effect on the packet propagation, while the vector potentials can enable birefringence, through which we further create a “temporal superlens” to achieve time-reversal operations. Finally, we experimentally demonstrate electric and magnetic Aharonov–Bohm effects using combined lattice-site and evolution-step interfaces of either scalar or vector potential. Our work initiates the creation of artificial heterointerfaces in synthetic time dimension by employing nonuniformly and reconfigurable distributed gauge potentials. This paradigm may find applications in optical pulse reshaping, fiber-optic communications, and quantum simulations.

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