University of Chicago
Spinning topology in ordered and amorphous metamaterials
Topology has emerged as a powerful tool for understanding a wide range of phenomena in condensed matter physics. Whether electronic, optical, or mechanical, materials with topological order in their excitation spectra exhibit unique behaviors at their boundaries, such as chiral edge currents that are unusually robust to disorder. In this talk, we uncover topological behavior in a simple system composed of interacting gyroscopes and use this metamaterial to explore broken symmetries and tune through topological phase transitions in real time. We then peel away a canonical ingredient for constructing topological insulators: the ordered underlying lattice. Here, we find topological physics emerging from amorphous networks of gyroscopes and establish the basic building blocks for understanding topology in amorphous systems. The results apply to a broad class of systems, from electronic and photonic materials to acoustic and mechanical structures.