Non-Abelian physics in light and sound

Science. 2024 Feb 23;383(6685):eadf9621. doi: 10.1126/science.adf9621. Epub 2024 Feb 23.


Non-Abelian phenomena arise when the sequence of operations on physical systems influences their behaviors. By possessing internal degrees of freedom such as polarization, light and sound can be subjected to various manipulations, including constituent materials, structured environments, and tailored source conditions. These manipulations enable the creation of a great variety of Hamiltonians, through which rich non-Abelian phenomena can be explored and observed. Recent developments have constituted a versatile testbed for exploring non-Abelian physics at the intersection of atomic, molecular, and optical physics; condensed matter physics; and mathematical physics. These fundamental endeavors could enable photonic and acoustic devices with multiplexing functionalities. Our review aims to provide a timely and comprehensive account of this emerging topic. Starting from the foundation of matrix-valued geometric phases, we address non-Abelian topological charges, non-Abelian gauge fields, non-Abelian braiding, non-Hermitian non-Abelian phenomena, and their realizations with photonics and acoustics and conclude with future prospects.

Publication types

  • Review