The strange world of self-induced transparency and light bullets

Jun 27, 2006

The remarkable phenomena of self-induced transparency and solitons will be studied in a new project supported by a grant of £397K from EPSRC. This joint theoretical and experimental project, involving scientists from the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey along with colleagues in the UK, France, and the USA, will study fundamental quantum coherent phenomena which may one day have applications in optical information processing.

The passage of very bright, very short light pulses through an optical material shows many interesting and useful effects. Normally, the pulse would spread out in space and time as a result of diffraction and dispersion. However when the pulse is very bright, nonlinear effects can exactly cancel this spreading, and the light pulse propagates without any change in shape: a 'soliton' or 'light bullet'.

It is easier to form solitons when the light is confined to a small cavity, and 'cavity solitons' are now attracting interest as a way of storing and manipulating data for optical storage or optical computing. Another effect, seen when the pulse duration is very short, is self-induced transparency (SIT), in which the material which normally absorbs light becomes completely transparent to a bright, short-duration light pulse.

This research project is based on theoretical predictions by one of the co-investigators, Dr. Gabriella Slavcheva. Using a new theory of nonlinear coherent pulse dynamics based on Richard Feynman's model of atoms in an electromagnetic field, Dr. Slavcheva predicted the existence of cavity solitons formed as a result of self-induced transparency.

With the help of collaborators from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, and the University of Arizona, the scientists from the ATI will employ both theory and experiment to demonstrate the existence of this new type of soliton and to investigate the potential for applications in information technology and communications.

Source: University of Surrey

Explore further: Revealed: Positronium's behavior in particle billiards

Related Stories

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

4 hours ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

4 hours ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

4 hours ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

17 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

Revealed: Positronium's behavior in particle billiards

5 hours ago

Collision physics can be like a game of billiards. Yet in the microscopic world, the outcome of the game is hard to predict. Fire a particle at a group of other particles, and they may scatter, combine or ...

Extreme lab at European X-ray laser XFEL is a go

Jul 02, 2015

The Helmholtz Senate has given the green light for the Association's involvement in the Helmholtz International Beamline (HIB), a new kind of experimentation station at the X-ray laser European XFEL in Hamburg, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.