In a groundbreaking study recently published in Nature Communications, physicists from Singapore and the UK have unveiled an optical analog of the renowned Kármán vortex street (KVS). This optical KVS pulse showcases a striking resemblance between fluid dynamics transport phenomena and the flow of structured light. The lead author of the study, Yijie Shen, hailing from Nanyang Technological University, highlights the unique characteristics of this light pulse, drawing parallels with the intricate pattern of swirling vortices observed in fluid and gas dynamics.

The study introduces a novel type of light pulse known as nondiffracting supertoroidal pulses (NDSTPs), featuring a skyrmionic field configuration that defies diffraction limitations. Unlike previous work on optical skyrmionic beams and pulses, the NDSTPs exhibit robust topological structures reminiscent of skyrmions in condensed matter, offering potential applications in diverse fields such as light-matter interactions, super-resolution microscopy, and metrology. The ability of these pulses to maintain their field configuration over arbitrary distances opens up new avenues for exploring electromagnetic skyrmionic fields and their dynamics during propagation.

The deeply subwavelength singularities present in the NDSTPs hold promise for applications in metrology and spectroscopy, offering insights into toroidal excitations in matter. Moreover, the unique topological features of these pulses make them ideal candidates for long-distance information transfer, with potential applications in telecommunications, remote sensing, and LiDAR technologies. The authors envision a future where the study and utilization of these pulsating structures revolutionize the field of optical communications and energy transfer.

The historical background of the Kármán vortex street, inspired by a painting in the Church of St Dominic in Italy, underscores the intersection of science and art in unraveling the mysteries of fluid dynamics. From the catastrophic failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge due to vortex-induced vibrations to the aesthetic beauty of swirling vortices, the KVS has captivated scientists and artists alike. This fusion of scientific inquiry and artistic symbolism showcases the profound impact of natural phenomena on human creativity and innovation.

The optical analog of the Kármán vortex street pulse represents a remarkable achievement in the realm of structured light and fluid dynamics. By harnessing the power of skyrmionic fields in nondiffracting supertoroidal pulses, scientists have unlocked a new paradigm for studying energy transport and information transfer through light. As we delve deeper into the intricate world of vortex streets and pulsating structures, we pave the way for unprecedented advancements in optical technology and scientific discovery.


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