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: What's fair?: New theory on income inequality

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

48 minutes ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

4 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

4 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

Researchers prove magnetism can control heat, sound

3 hours ago

Phonons—the elemental particles that transmit both heat and sound—have magnetic properties, according to a landmark study supported by Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) services and recently published by ...

How researchers listen for gravitational waves

12 hours ago

A century ago, Albert Einstein postulated the existence of gravitational waves in his General Theory of Relativity. But until now, these distortions of space-time have remained stubbornly hidden from direct ...

What's fair?: New theory on income inequality

23 hours ago

The increasing inequality in income and wealth in recent years, together with excessive pay packages of CEOs in the U.S. and abroad, is of growing concern, especially to policy makers. Income inequality was ...

Scientists one step closer to mimicking gamma-ray bursts

May 27, 2015

Using ever more energetic lasers, Lawrence Livermore researchers have produced a record high number of electron-positron pairs, opening exciting opportunities to study extreme astrophysical processes, such ...

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.