Observation of Polarization Vortices in Momentum Space
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The vortex, a fundamental topological excitation featuring the in-plane winding of a vector field, is important in various areas such as fluid dynamics, liquid crystals, and superconductors. Although commonly existing in nature, vortices were observed exclusively in real space. Here, we experimentally observed momentum-space vortices as the winding of far-field polarization vectors in the first Brillouin zone of periodic plasmonic structures. Using homemade polarization-resolved momentum-space imaging spectroscopy, we mapped out the dispersion, lifetime, and polarization of all radiative states at the visible wavelengths. The momentum-space vortices were experimentally identified by their winding patterns in the polarization-resolved isofrequency contours and their diverging radiative quality factors. Such polarization vortices can exist robustly on any periodic systems of vectorial fields, while they are not captured by the existing topological band theory developed for scalar fields. Our work provides a new way for designing high-Q plasmonic resonances, generating vector beams, and studying topological photonics in the momentum space.
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