Breaking the symmetry of electromagnetic wave propagation enables important technological functionality. In particular, circulators are nonreciprocal components that can route photons directionally in classical or quantum photonic circuits and offer prospects for fundamental research on electromagnetic transport. Developing highly efficient circulators thus presents an important challenge, especially to realise compact reconfigurable implementations that do not rely on magnetic fields to break reciprocity. We demonstrate optical circulation utilising radiation pressure interactions in an on-chip multimode optomechanical system. Mechanically mediated optical mode conversion in a silica microtoroid provides a synthetic gauge bias for light, enabling four-port circulation that exploits tailored interference between appropriate light paths. We identify two sideband conditions under which ideal circulation is approached. This allows to experimentally demonstrate ~10 dB isolation and <3 dB insertion loss in all relevant channels. We show the possibility of actively controlling the circulator properties, enabling ideal opportunities for reconfigurable integrated nanophotonic circuits.

Nature Commun.
Photonic Forces

Ruesink, F, Mathew, J.P, Miri, M.-A, Alù, A, & Verhagen, E. (2018). Optical circulation in a multimode optomechanical resonator. Nature Commun., 9(Article number: 1798). doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04202-y