The controlled manipulation of exotic quasiparticles known as anyons, a process known as “braiding,” is the basis of a powerful computational paradigm known as topological quantum computing. Substantial effort is currently being devoted to realizing such excitations in semiconductor heterostructures, but the milestone of braiding has yet to be achieved in such systems. ISU faculty member Thomas Iadecola is part of a research team that has recently demonstrated the possibility of braiding topological defects in photonic systems, whose properties mimic many of the salient features of their quantum counterparts. The team, which includes Iadecola’s theory colleagues from Boston University and UC Berkeley and experimentalists from Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, designed and performed an experiment in which such defects were realized and braided in a photonic waveguide array, and devised an interferometric measurement to unambiguously detect the geometric phase due to the braiding operation. The research, which was recently published in Nature Physics, builds on a previous theory proposal from the group and was recently covered by phys.org.