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Topological Protection of Optical Skyrmions through Complex Media

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posted on 2024-03-14, 16:00 authored by An Aloysius Wang, Zimo Zhao, Yifei Ma, Yuxi Cai, Tade Marozsak, Binguo Chen, Honghui He, Lin Luo, Martin J Booth, Steve J Elston, Stephen M Morris, Chao He
Recent experimental realizations of optical Skyrmions through the techniques of structured light have opened the doors to a completely new way of representing data in electromagnetic fields, namely its topology. Apart from potentially enhancing the bandwidth of optical systems, the intrinsically discrete nature of the topological number allows Skyrmions to naturally interface with the digital world. However, investigations into the topological protection of optical Skyrmions through various media remain limited to date. Here, we rigorously define the optical Skyrmion and establish a framework that can be used to analyze the effects of complex media on the topology of Skyrmion fields. Using this framework, we provide simple criteria for spatially varying retarders, diattenuators, depolarizers, and combinations of the former under which topological protection is guaranteed. We then present experimental results validating the robustness of the Skyrmion number against corrupting media and discuss ways of extending the optical Skyrmion to more general settings. We believe that the work presented in this paper provides a theoretical underpinning for the use of Skyrmions in practical applications ranging from optical communications to photonic computing.

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