Curved space-times and, in particular, event horizons of astrophysical black holes are expected to excite the quantum vacuum and give rise to an emission of quanta known as Hawking radiation. Remarkably, many physical systems may be considered analogous to black holes and as such hold promise for the detection of Hawking radiation. In particular, recent progress in the field of transformation optics, i.e. the description of optical systems in terms of curved space-time geometries, has led to a detailed description of methods for generating, via superluminal dielectrics, a blocking horizon for photons. Our measurements highlight the emission of photons from a moving refractive index perturbation induced by a laser pulse that is in quantitative agreement with the Hawking model. This opens an intriguing and readily accessible observation window into quantum field theory in curved space-time geometries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)