Optics; photonics; pt symmetry; supersymmetry


Symmetry plays a crucial role in exploring the laws of nature. By exploiting some of the underlying analogies between the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics and that of electrodynamics, in this dissertation we show that optics can provide a fertile ground for studying, observing, and utilizing some of the peculiar symmetries that are currently out of reach in other areas of physics. In particular, in this work, we investigate two important classes of symmetries, parity-time symmetry (PT) and supersymmetry (SUSY), within the context of classical optics. The presence of PT symmetry can lead to entirely real spectra in non-Hermitian systems. In optics, PT-symmetric structures involving balanced regions of gain and loss exhibit intriguing properties which are otherwise unattainable in traditional Hermitian systems. We show that selective PT symmetry breaking offers a new method for achieving single mode operation in laser cavities. Other interesting phenomena also arise in connection with PT periodic structures. Along these lines, we introduce a new class of optical lattices, the so called mesh lattices. Such arrays provide an ideal platform for observing a range of PT-related phenomena. We show that defect sates and solitons exist in such periodic environments exhibiting unusual behavior. We also investigate the scattering properties of PT-symmetric particles and we show that such structures can deflect light in a controllable manner. In the second part of this dissertation, we introduce the concept of supersymmetric optics. In this regard, we show that any optical structure can be paired with a superpartner with similar guided wave and scattering properties. As a result, the guided mode spectra of these optical waveguide systems can be judiciously engineered so as to realize new families of mode filters and mode division multiplexers and demultiplexers. We also present the first experimental demonstration of light dynamics in SUSY ladders of photonic lattices. In addition a new type of transformation optics based on supersymmetry is also explored. Finally, using the SUSY formalism in non-Hermitian settings, we identify more general families of complex optical potentials with real spectra.


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Graduation Date





Christodoulides, Demetrios


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics








Release Date

June 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics; Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic