2023 Simons Collaboration on Extreme Wave Phenomena Based on Symmetries Annual Meeting

Date & Time

Andrea Alù, Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York

Past Meeting:

Meeting Goals:
The Simons Collaboration on Extreme Wave Phenomena Based on Symmetries will gather in their Annual Meeting with other leaders in related fields to review the year’s achievements, preview promising new directions springing from group efforts, introduce new team members, and exchange ideas with a broader audience. The Meeting will encompass four key symmetry classes and their synergy in enhancing the control over wave propagation: geometrical, dynamical, unfolding and duality symmetries. We will sample several new concepts and phenomena developed within the past years through joint efforts within the Collaboration. Working in a close collaboration between mathematicians, theoretical and applied physicists, and engineers, the team conceived and developed a comprehensive array of theoretical, numerical and experimental platforms to control acoustic, electronic, mechanical, radio and light waves. The meeting will culminate with a preview of how the new tools and platforms developed during the past years will converge in the coming years towards a unified paradigm for extreme wave phenomena based on symmetry concepts.

  • Agendaplus--large

    Thursday, October 19th

    9:30 AM4D Waves: Electromagnetic and water platforms | Nader Engheta & Emmanuel Fort
    10:30 AMBREAK
    11:00 AMSymmetry engineered topological photonics | Mario Silveirinha & Alexander Khanikaev
    12:00 PMLUNCH
    1:00 PMOptimization in hperbolic space: from airplane boarding to hyperbolic metamaterial lenses | Eitan Bachmat & Simon Yves
    2:00 PMBREAK
    2:30 PMNanophotonics by design: reaching the limits of light-matter interactions | Owen Miller & Steven Johnson
    3:30 PMBREAK
    4:00 PMUniversality of non-Hermitian eigenstates for reflectionless scattering in classical and quantum wave equations | A. Douglas Stone & Andrea Alù

    Friday, October 20th

    9:30 AMExtreme wave mechanics: strong non-linearities, non-reciprocity and dualities | Vincenzo Vitelli & Katia Bertoldi
    10:30 AMBREAK
    11:00 AMSymmetries and symmetry-breaking by nonlinear processes | Demetrios Christodoulides & Tsampikos Kottos
    12:00 PMLUNCH
    1:00 PMHarnessing symmetry classes for extreme wave phenomena | Andrea Alù
  • Abstractsplus--large

    4D Waves: Electromagnetic and water platforms

    Emmanuel Fort
    ESPCI Paris, University

    Nader Engheta,
    University of Pennsylvania

    In any wave phenomenon, the space and time play central roles. There are certain symmetries and analogies between the spatial dimensions and the temporal dimension, while there are of course some differences. To manipulate and tailor waves, spatial inhomogeneities in material platforms have often been exploited. Diffraction, scattering, and guidance of waves are all examples of how inhomogeneities in material parameters can provide useful wave control. By bringing the 4th dimension of time in material parameters while the wave is present, more degrees of freedom are offered in structuring and sculpting waves. Such “4D waves” offer new concepts and exciting phenomena in wave physics with potential applications in frequency conversion, wave amplification, time-reversal techniques, etc. In this talk, we discuss some of the features of 4D electromagnetic waves (when the material permittivity is changed in time) and 4D water waves (when the parameters such as gravity are effectively altered). We will show some of the similarities and differences between these two types of waves, and we will present how the water wave can offer an interesting playground for testing and observing some of wave features predicted in the 4D electromagnetic waves.

    Symmetry engineered topological photonics

    Mário G. Silveirinha
    University of Lisbon

    Alexander B. Khanikaev
    City College of New York

    In this talk we will outline our recent progress on the use of symmetries to engineer topological phases of electromagnetic waves. We will show how spatial symmetries can be used to generate effective Hamiltonians emulating relativistic-like Dirac physics in optical systems. We will describe how this leads to structured optical modes carrying angular momentum and valley degrees of freedom – two types of the pseudo-spin. We will present theoretical and experimental results that show how synthetic gauge potentials acting on these degrees of freedom can be used for trapping and guiding electromagnetic waves. We also show that synthetic gauge fields can be designed to selectively act on the optical spin-full guided modes to produce single qubit gate operations with quantum information encoded into pseudo-spins. Furthermore, we will extend the topological theory of bands to time-variant photonic crystals with a travelling wave modulation. We will show how by tailoring the anisotropy of materials it may be possible to engineer topological states with a nontrivial angular momentum from a linear momentum bias. Finally, we will discuss the topological origin of a novel non-Hermitian linear electro-optic effect in low-symmetry natural materials. It will be shown that such systems may be the ideal platforms to realize topological lasers with the orbital angular momentum of the laser mode locked to the orientation of the electric bias.

    Optimization in hyperbolic space: from airplane boarding to hyperbolic metamaterial lenses

    Eitan Bachmat
    Ben-Gurion University

    Simon Yves
    Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York

    We will consider the problem of minimizing airplane boarding time given a group of “fast” passengers (say those without overhead bin luggage). An airline can place the “fast” passengers at the front of the queue, back of the queue or can apply a more sophisticated policy which also takes the row of the passenger into account. We describe the problem in terms of Lorentzian (space-time) geometry and provide constructions of optimal row/queue locations for the “fast” passengers.

    Then, we develop a direct analogy between the airplane boarding problem in Lorentzian space and hyperbolic metamaterials by describing “slow” and “fast” passengers by hyperbolic media with different isofrequency contours. Harnessing the optimization results of the airplane boarding study, we manage to fully design a hyperbolic lens with high numerical aperture.

    This work highlights the benefits of transdisciplinarity both for optimization problems and enhanced wave propagation control.

    Nanophotonics by design: reaching the limits of light–matter interactions

    Steven Johnson
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Owen Miller
    Yale University

    Nanoscience is developing at a rapid pace, with ever more materials, form factors, and structural degrees of freedom now available. To confront these large design spaces, and leverage them for transformative technologies, new theoretical tools are needed. One approach is “inverse design,” a bottom-up computational optimization technique for discovering non-intuitive, superior designs. We describe novel formulations of problems ranging from multilayer metasurfaces to incoherent wavefront control that enable large-scale inverse design. An emerging complementary approach is “top down,” surveying the landscape and identifying fundamental limits to what is possible. We show that there is a surprising amount of mathematical structure hidden in the typical differential equations of physics, and that this structure enables new connections to modern techniques in convex optimization. The key differential-equation constraints can be transformed to infinite sets of local conservation laws, which have a structure amenable to quadratic and semidefinite programming. This approach can lead to global bounds (“fundamental limits”) for many design problems of interest, and to dramatically new approaches to identifying designs themselves.

    Universality of non-Hermitian eigenvalues and eigenstates for reflectionless scattering in classical and quantum wave equations

    A. Douglas Stone
    Yale University

    Andrea Alù
    Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York

    Reflectionless resonant scattering of waves has been studied since the beginning of modern physics, in the context of both classical wave equations (electromagnetic, optical, acoustic) and Schrödinger’s equation, yet no general framework had been developed to determine when such solutions exist and how to construct them for arbitrary linear scattering problems with and without symmetry. Recently we have developed such a framework, by posing reflectionless scattering as an eigenvalue problem which is intrinsically non-Hermitian, and leads to a discrete complex spectrum of frequencies (in the classical case) and of energies (in the quantum case), with associated eigenfunctions. Steady-state reflectionless scattering is only possible for any linear system when some or all of these eigenvalues are real, at the corresponding frequencies or energies, and only when the corresponding coherent eigenfunction is incident. Such steady-state solutions are termed Reflectionless Scattering Modes (RSMs), solutions off the real axis are termed R-zeros, and are accessible with transient excitation. Degeneracy of R-zeros creates a new kind of exceptional point, associated with broadband reflectionless scattering. Without any spatial symmetry of the scattering structure, the R-zero spectrum is generically complex and no steady-state reflectionless solutions exist; however typically the tuning of one continuous structural parameter can create a reflectionless solution without restoring symmetry. We illustrate this for the case of a multichannel chaotic cavity, under multichannel excitation, both theoretically and experimentally. When the system has a discrete symmetry, such as parity, RSMs may or may not exist, and concepts based on Parity-Time symmetry can describe the physics of the RSM/R-zero spectrum. Interestingly, the theory predicts a possible PT phase transition in the RSM spectrum without introducing imaginary terms in the potential or susceptibility. We report on such a case, the single-particle Schrödinger equation in a parity symmetric upside-down potential; this phenomenon should be measurable in cold-atom condensate experiments. We also report on functionalization of RSMs for routing of microwave signals, and transient excitation of R-zeros and R-zero EPs.

    Extreme wave mechanics: strong non-linearities, non-reciprocity and dualities

    Katia Bertoldi
    Harvard University

    Vincenzo Vitelli
    University of Chicago

    We present an overview of recent advances by the collaboration on linear and non-linear waves in mechanical metamaterials emphasizing the role of mechanisms, material geometry and symmetry breaking. We first present a systematic procedure to generate families of Hamiltonians endowed with generalized hidden symmetries, called dualities and provide a universal description of Hamiltonian families near self-dual points and associated non-abelian phenomenology. We apply our findings to recent experiments on wave propagation in mechanical metamaterials and discuss potential extensions to other physical domains. Next, we discuss linear and non-linear waves in continuum mechanics with non-reciprocal (i.e. odd) constitutive relations and provide a generalization to odd electromagnetic media.

    Symmetries and symmetry-breaking induced by nonlinear processes

    Demetri Christodoulides
    University of Southern California

    Tsampikos Kottos
    Wesleyan University

    In this presentation we will highlight the interplay between nonlinear wave interactions and the underlying symmetries and violations which can be leveraged to develop a novel theoretical framework capable of describing the utterly convoluted dynamics in complex systems. This approach can lead to universal models that can be used for understanding and predicting the response of highly multimode nonlinear optical sources based on overarching principles of statistical mechanics. In addition, this same methodology can be deployed to enhance the sensitivity and asymmetric transport phenomena in nonlinear environments where spatio-temporal symmetries can be violated in a self-induced fashion. The implications of these formalisms in various bosonic settings will be discussed.

    Harnessing symmetry classes for extreme wave phenomena

    Andrea Alù
    Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York

    In this talk, I will review our Simons Collaboration’s synergistic progress in framing a universal platform to enable extreme wave phenomena based on symmetries. I will discuss how our team has been enabling new forms of topological order based on broken geometrical and temporal symmetries, time- and space-time metamaterials based on time-reversal symmetry breaking, tailored wave propagation in complex wave systems relying on unfolding symmetries, and duality phenomena associated with hidden symmetries. Of particular relevance is the emergence of new wave phenomena enabled by combining these symmetry classes into a unified paradigm, and their universality across various physics domains and frequency ranges. During the talk, I will discuss the current progress of our team on these topics, the impact from basic physics to relevant technologies, and an outlook for this exciting field of research and the community being formed around these concepts.

  • Participation & Fundingplus--large

    Participation in the meeting falls into the following four categories. An individual’s participation category is communicated via their letter of invitation.

    Group A – PIs and Speakers
    The foundation will arrange and pay for all air and train travel to the conference as well as hotel accommodations and reimbursement of local expenses.

    Group B – Out-of-town Participants
    The foundation will arrange and pay for all air and train travel to the conference as well as hotel accommodations and reimbursement of local expenses.

    Group C – Local Participants
    Individuals in Group C will not receive financial support, but are encouraged to enjoy all conference-hosted meals.

    Group D – Remote Participants
    Individuals in Group D will participate in the meeting remotely. Please register at the link above and a remote participation link will be sent to you approximately two weeks prior to the meeting.

  • Travel & Hotelplus--large

    Air and Train
    For individuals in Groups A and B the foundation will arrange and pay for round-trip travel from their home city to the conference.

    All travel and hotel arrangements must be booked through the Simons Foundation’s preferred travel agency. Travel arrangements not booked through the preferred agency must be pre-approved by the Simons Foundation and a reimbursement quote must be obtained through the foundation’s travel agency. Travel specifications can be provided by clicking the registration link above.

    Personal Car
    Personal car trips over 250 miles each way require prior approval from the Simons Foundation via email.

    The James NoMad Hotel offers valet parking. Please note there are no in-and-out privileges when using the hotel’s garage, therefore it is encouraged that participants walk or take public transportation to the Simons Foundation.

    Participants in Groups A & B who require accommodations are hosted by the foundation for a maximum of three nights at The James NoMad Hotel. Any additional nights are at the attendee’s own expense. To arrange accommodations, please register at the link above.

    The James NoMad Hotel
    22 E 29th St
    New York, NY 10016
    (between 28th and 29th Streets)

    For driving directions to The James NoMad, please click here.

  • Attendance & Reimbursement Policiesplus--large


    In-person participants and speakers are expected to attend all meeting days. Partial participation is permitted so long as the individual fully attends the first day, which is typically Thursday for two-day meetings. Participants receiving hotel and travel support wishing to arrive on meeting days which conclude at 2:00 PM will be asked to attend remotely.

    COVID-19 Vaccination:
    Individuals accessing Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Entry & Building Access:
    Upon arrival, guests will be required to show their photo ID to enter the Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings. After checking-in at the meeting reception desk, guests will be able to show their meeting name badge to re-enter the building. If you forget your name badge, you will need to provide your photo ID.

    The Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings are not considered “open campuses” and meeting participants will only have access to the spaces in which the meeting will take place. All other areas are off limits without prior approval.

    If you require a private space to conduct a phone call or remote meeting, please contact your meeting manager at least 48-hours ahead of time so that they may book a space for you within the foundation’s room reservation system.

    Meeting participants are required to give 24 hour advance notice of any guests meeting them at the Simons Foundation either before or after the meeting. Outside guests are discouraged from joining meeting activities, including meals.

    Ad hoc meeting participants who did not receive a meeting invitation directly from the Simons Foundation are discouraged.

    Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to attend meetings at the Simons Foundation. Furthermore, the Simons Foundation does not provide childcare facilities or support of any kind. Special accommodations will be made for nursing parents.


    Individuals in Groups A & B will be reimbursed for meals and local expenses including ground transportation. Expenses should be submitted through the foundation’s online expense reimbursement platform after the meeting’s conclusion.

    Expenses accrued as a result of meetings not directly related to the Simons Foundation-hosted meeting (a satellite collaboration meeting held at another institution, for example) will not be reimbursed by the Simons Foundation and should be paid by other sources.

    Below are key reimbursement takeaways; a full policy will be provided with the final logistics email circulated approximately 2 weeks prior to the meeting’s start.

    The daily meal limit is $125 and itemized receipts are required for expenses over $24 USD. The foundation DOES NOT provide a meal per diem and only reimburses actual meal expenses.

    • Meals taken on travel days are reimbursable.
    • Meals taken outside those provided by the foundation (breakfast, lunch, breaks and/or dinner) are not reimbursable.
    • If a meal was not provided on a meeting day, dinner for example, that expense is reimbursable.
    • Meals taken on days not associated with Simons Foundation-coordinated events are not reimbursable.
    • Minibar expenses are not reimbursable
    • Meal expenses for a non-foundation guest are not reimbursable.
    • Group meals consisting of fellow meeting participants paid by a single person will be reimbursed up to $65 per person per meal and the amount will count towards each individual’s $125 daily meal limit.

    Ground Transportation:
    Expenses for ground transportation will be reimbursed for travel days (i.e. traveling to/from the airport) as well as local transportation. While in NYC, individuals are encouraged to use public transportation and not use taxi, Uber or Lyft services.

  • Contactsplus--large

    Registration and Travel Assistance
    Ovation Travel Group
    (917) 408-8384 (24-Hours)

    Meeting Questions and Assistance
    Emily Klein
    Assistant Manager, Events, MPS, Simons Foundation
    (646) 751-1262

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