|Posted: Apr 18, 2016|
Breaking of tiny light pulses observed in a nanophotonic chip for the first time(Nanowerk News) An international team of scientists has observed the splitting of optical pulses in a nanoscale photonic chip for the first time. The pulse splitting phenomenon, called soliton fission, could lead to novel rainbow light sources used in compact optical communications systems and lab-on-a-chip spectroscopic tools for portable medical diagnostics.
|CUDOS’ Dr Chad Husko and Dr Matthias Wulf of the FOM Institute-AMOLF in the Netherlands led the study, which also included partner institute Thales Research, and Technology (France) who developed the photonic chip. The results appeared today in Nature Communications ("Free-carrier-induced soliton fission unveiled by in situ measurements in nanophotonic waveguides").|
|Using a special near-field scanning optical microscope, the team was able to directly map the pulse evolution directly inside the photonic chip by bringing the microscope tip mere nanometers from the material surface.|
|“Measuring spatio-temporal dynamics of nanoscopic objects is a challenging task,” said Professor Kobus Kuipers AMOLF NanoOptics group leader and co-author.|
|“Fortunately, our unique microscope allows us to track the pulse evolution not only in space, but also in time. To our knowledge, these measurements are the first of their kind.”|
|Beyond the experimental observation, the study highlights a new mechanism for breaking the pulses apart. The team additionally derived a theoretical description of the phenomenon.|
|“It was exciting to realise that we were measuring physics unique to intense light interacting with free carriers (electron-hole pairs)”, said Dr. Wulf.|
|“Observing solitons at the nanoscale has been a long-standing goal of the field. To have realized this challenging experiment is a really exciting result," said Professor Benjamin Eggleton, CUDOS Director and co-author.|
|And the rainbow light sources?|
|“When the pulses split apart, they also spread out in colour. Cases with extremely energetic pulses lead to a bright rainbow spectrum known as ‘supercontinuum,’ ” said Dr. Husko.|
|Amongst their many uses, supercontinuum sources are excellent spectroscopic tools as evidenced by their role in the breakthrough experiment cited in the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics.|
|“Now that we have a new technique to induce pulse breaking, we’re excited to see where the field will take it. On-chip spectroscopy and mid-infrared light sources in integrated photonic chips are just a few ideas,” said Dr. Husko.|
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