International Summer School Nanophotonics and Metamaterials will take place in ITMO U`s Sports Camp Yagodnoe on June 21-24. It will include unique lectures presented by scientists from Stanford University (the USA), Institut Laue-Langevin (France), Aalto University (Finland) and other universities. Alexander Khanikaev, one of the international lecturers gave an interview to ITMO University`s News Portal Editorial Office.

During your visit you gave a lecture to ITMO University students. What was it about?

In my lecture I talked about a promising joint project I am working on together with a research group led by Pavel Belov. We develop a new type of metamaterial, called optical topological insulators. During spreading inside fiber lines light is scattered and loses its` energy. Usually it is caused by deforming and bending of optical fibers while covering them with protective shells to develop optical fiber cables. Transmission losses decrease efficiency of fiber lines. The metamaterials developed by our research team provide light transmission without scattering and reflection.

First of all I should explain what a solid topological insulator is. It is a material, which has dielectric properties but is covered with a current-conducting layer. This layer “hides” electrons making them resistant to surface damage.

Currently we are developing optical analogues of solid topological insulators. While being in edge state optical waves are secure from affection. Thanks to this feature one can avoid transmission losses caused by conducting material`s heating or light absorption.


How will this research be applied?

Using of topological systems leads to new solutions for wave behavior control that were impossible to be provided before. Regardless of how high quality they are produced, until not it has been impossible to create an optical waveguide without surface imperfections. Thanks to topological systems it will be possible to integrate electronic and optical components on a common platform.


What will you talk about at International Summer School Nanophotonics and Metamaterials?

My lectures will be about methods of mathematical modelling. I will explain to the students the details of our topological systems. Furthermore, recently I started to research how to avoid transmission losses of sound waves in edge states. I focused on wave propagation in solid bodies and gases. I plan to share the first results of this research project, which contributes to creating the new generation of acoustic devices.  I will also talk about the application of metamaterials for sound wave propagation`s control.


What motivates you to travel to different universities and educational events to deliver lectures? 

Some say that we have already made all discoveries in physics. However, I disagree with this statement. Moreover, I believe that a scientist should not only develop something new, but also disseminate that knowledge with other young researchers. I hope that after sharing these lectures on metamaterials, some students will be inspired to explore this field further in future.   

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