Non-Hermitian chiral phononics through optomechanically induced squeezing
Imposing chirality on a physical system engenders unconventional energy flow and responses, such as the Aharonov–Bohm effect1 and the topological quantum Hall phase for electrons in a symmetry-breaking magnetic field. Recently, great interest has arisen in combining that principle with broken Hermiticity to explore novel topological phases and applications 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16. Here we report phononic states with unique symmetries and dynamics that are formed when combining the controlled breaking of time-reversal symmetry with non-Hermitian dynamics. Both of these are induced through time-modulated radiation pressure forces in small nano-optomechanical networks. We observe chiral energy flow among mechanical resonators in a synthetic dimension and Aharonov–Bohm tuning of their eigenmodes. Introducing particle-non-conserving squeezing interactions, we observe a non-Hermitian Aharonov–Bohm effect in ring-shaped networks in which mechanical quasiparticles experience parametric gain. The resulting complex mode spectra indicate flux-tuning of squeezing, exceptional points, instabilities and unidirectional phononic amplification. This rich phenomenology points the way to exploring new non-Hermitian topological bosonic phases and applications in sensing and transport that exploit spatiotemporal symmetry breaking.