Bonn 2010 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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GR: Fachverband Gravitation und Relativitätstheorie

GR 9: Kosmologie 1

GR 9.3: Vortrag

Dienstag, 16. März 2010, 18:05–18:25, JUR K

Optics in curved space — •Vincent Schultheiss1,2, Sascha Batz1,2, and Ulf Peschel21MPI für die Physik des Lichts, Erlangen, Germany — 2Institut für Optik, Information und Photonik, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

The conventional way of manipulating light propagation is to introduce specific optical elements, which break the homogeneity of the transmitting medium by modulating the refractive index. In this context the underlying space is assumed to be flat. However, Maxwell's equations are not limited to the specific case of Euclidean space, but can be generalized to a covariant form holding also in curved space. It turns out that indeed space influences the evolution of light beyond the ray-optical approximation even without the need of modulating the refractive index. Here we present the very first experimental study of the impact of intrinsic curvature on the evolution of optical waves. While so-called transformation optics proposes the use of metamaterials to mimic non flat space-time, we choose a more direct approach and abandon one spatial dimension to investigate light propagation on specifically shaped two-dimensional curved surfaces embedded in three dimensional space. For positive intrinsic (or Gaussian) curvature as it is modeled by the surface of a sphere we observe periodic refocusing, self-imaging and diffractionless propagation. In contrast light spreads exponentially on hyperbolic surfaces with constant negative Gaussian curvature. The proposed ideas open up new approaches to manipulate light in integrated optical circuits and investigate analogous models of general relativity.

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