Observation of Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou Recurrence and Its Exact Dynamics

One of the most controversial phenomena in nonlinear dynamics is the reappearance of initial conditions. Celebrated as the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou problem, the attempt to understand how these recurrences form during the complex evolution that leads to equilibrium has deeply influenced the entire development of nonlinear science. The enigma is rendered even more intriguing by the fact that integrable models predict recurrence as exact solutions, but the difficulties involved in upholding integrability for a sufficiently long dynamic has not allowed a quantitative experimental validation. In natural processes, coupling with the environment rapidly leads to thermalization, and finding nonlinear multimodal systems presenting multiple returns is a long-standing open challenge. Here, we report the observation of more than three Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou recurrences for nonlinear optical spatial waves and demonstrate the control of the recurrent behavior through the phase and amplitude of the initial field. The recurrence period and phase shift are found to be in remarkable agreement with the exact recurrent solution of the nonlinear Schrödinger equation, while the recurrent behavior disappears as integrability is lost. These results identify the origin of the recurrence in the integrability of the underlying dynamics and allow us to achieve one of the basic aspirations of nonlinear dynamics: the reconstruction, after several return cycles, of the exact initial condition of the system, ultimately proving that the complex evolution can be accurately predicted in experimental conditions.

D. Pierangeli, M. Flammini, L. Zhang, G. Marcucci, A. J. Agranat,
P. G. Grinevich, P. M. Santini, C. Conti, and E. DelRe in PHYSICAL REVIEW X 8, 041017 (2018)

10th Optoelectronics and Photonics Winter School: NLP2019 – Nonlinear Photonics

The School aims in bringing together a large number of PhD students and young researchers from all parts of the world which, during a  one-week intense schedule will follow a series of lectures on nonlinear photonics. The lectures are held by internationally recognized experts in the field. At the same, the students are  encouraged to enjoy the beautiful location where the school is  organized. These Optoelectronics and Photonics Winter School series are traditionally held in Trentino region every second year and have  a very good reputation for the in-depth coverage of a topic and the lively atmosphere where ideas exchanges, discussions and amusements  are all blended to give a strong physical flavor.

https://event.unitn.it/nlp2019/
Website of the school 

Nonlinear transmission matrix of random optical media

Random media with tailored optical properties are attracting burgeoning interest for applications in imaging, biophysics, energy, nanomedicine, spectroscopy, cryptography and telecommunications.
A key paradigm for devices based on this class of materials is the transmission matrix, the tensorial link between the input and the output signals, that describes in full their optical behavior. The transmission matrix has specific statistical properties, as the existence of lossless channels, that can be used to transmit information, and are determined by the disorder distribution. In nonlinear materials, these channels may be modulated and the transmission matrix tuned accordingly. Here we
report the direct measurement of the nonlinear transmission matrix of complex materials, exploiting the strong optothermal nonlinearity of scattering Silica Aerogel (SA). We show that the dephasing effects due to nonlinearity are both controllable and reversible, opening the road to applications based on the nonlinear response of random media.

A. Fleming, C. Conti, A. Di Falco, arXiv:1809.07077

Accelerated electrons go farther if out-of-equilibrium

ArXiv:1808.03669

We explore the nonlinear response of plasmonic materials driven by ultrashort pulses of electromagnetic radiation with temporal duration of few femtoseconds and high peak intensity. By developing the Fokker-Planck-Landau theory of electron collisions, we solve analytically the collisional integral and derive a novel set of hydrodynamical equations accounting for plasma dynamics at ultrashort time scales. While in the limit of small light intensities we recover the well established Drude model of plasmas, in the high intensity limit we observe nonlinear quenching of collision-induced damping leading to absorption saturation. Our results provide a general background to understand electron dynamics in plasmonic materials with promising photonic applications in the manipulation of plasma waves with reduced absorption at the femtosecond time scale.

Andrea Marini, Alessandro Ciattoni, and Claudio Conti, Collision quenching in the ultrafast dynamics of plasmonic materials in ArXiv:1808.03669

Planckian signatures in optical harmonic generation and supercontinuum

Many theories of quantum gravity, as string theory, loop quantum gravity, and doubly special relativity, predict the existence of a minimal length scale and outline the need to generalize the uncertainty principle. This generalized uncertainty principle relies on modified commutation relations that – if applied to the second quantization – imply an excess energy of the electromagnetic quanta with respect to ω. Here we show that this “dark energy of the photon” is amplified during nonlinear optical process. Therefore, if one accepts the minimal length scenario, one must expect to observe specific optical frequencies in optical harmonic generation by intense laser fields. Other processes as four-wave mixing and supercontinuum generation may also contain similar spectral features of quantum-gravity. Nonlinear optics may hence be helpful to falsify some of the most investigated approaches to the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity.

C. Conti in arXiv:1805.11716