In recent years, non-Hermitian degeneracies also known as exceptional points (EPs) have emerged as a new paradigm for engineering the response of optical systems. EPs can appear in a wide class of open non-Hermitian configurations. Among different types of non-conservative photonic systems, parity-time (PT) symmetric arrangements are of particular interest since they provide an excellent platform to explore the physics of exceptional points. In this work, the intriguing properties of exceptional points are utilized to address two of the long standing challenges in the field of integrated photonics- enforcing single mode lasing in intrinsically multimode cavities and enhancing the sensitivity of micro-resonators. In the first part of this work, I will describe how stable single mode lasing can be readily achieved in longitudinally and transversely multi-moded microring cavities through the systematic utilization of abrupt phase transitions at exceptional points. This technique will be first demonstrated in a parity-time laser that is comprised of a gain cavity coupled to an identical but lossy counterpart. A detailed study of the behavior of this system around the exceptional point will be presented. Furthermore, we report the first experimental realization of a dark state laser in which by strategically designing the spectral locations of exceptional points, widely tunable single-mode lasing can be attained even at high pump levels. Despite the presence of loss in such open laser systems, the slope efficiency remains virtually intact. Our results demonstrate the potential of exceptional points as a versatile design tool for mode management in on-chip laser configurations. In the second part of my dissertation, I will show how the exceptional points and their underlying degeneracies can be used to significantly boost the intrinsic sensitivity of microcavities. I will demonstrate the enhanced sensitivity in a binary PT-symmetric coupled cavity arrangement that is biased at an exceptional point. Then I will report the first observation of higher-order exceptional points in a ternary parity-time symmetric microring laser system with a judiciously tailored gain-loss distribution. The enhanced response associated with this ternary system follows a cubic root dependence on externally introduced perturbation, which can in turn be detected in the spectral domain. Using such arrangements, more than one order of magnitude enhancement in the sensitivity is observed experimentally. These results can pave the way towards improving the performance of current on-chip micro-cavity sensors.

Graduation Date





Khajavikhan, Mercedeh


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics









Release Date

November 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)