Abstract

Exceptional points (EPs) with a global collapse of pairs of eigenfunctions are shown to arise in two locally coupled and spatially extended optical structures with balanced gain and loss. The global collapse at the EP deeply changes light propagation, which becomes very sensitive to small changes of initial conditions or system parameters, similar to what happens in models of classical or quantum catastrophes. The implications of global collapse for light behavior are illustrated by considering discrete beam diffraction and Bloch oscillation catastrophe in coupled waveguide lattices.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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