The condition of real eigenvalue spectra in quantum mechanics is usually met by requiring operators to be Hermitian. This perception was challenged in 1988 by Carl M. Bender and Stefan Boettcher, who showed that parity-time (PT) symmetric Hamiltonians can have real spectra as well [1]. In photonics this concept was adopted by designing gain and loss structures for electromagnetic waves [2]. While numerous hallmark features [2] could be verified, experiments remained limited to one-dimensional settings. In this work we overcome this limitation and demonstrate a two-dimensional PT-symmetric system of photonic waveguides. We use this structure to study the interplay between a PT-phase transition and the emergence of topological edge states.

© 2019 IEEE

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