Quantum X waves with orbital angular momentum in nonlinear dispersive media

We present a complete and consistent quantum theory of generalised X waves with orbital angular momentum in dispersive media. We show that the resulting quantised light pulses are affected by neither dispersion nor diffraction and are therefore resilient against external perturbations. The nonlinear interaction of quantised X waves in quadratic and Kerr nonlinear media is also presented and studied in detail.

M. Ornigotti, C. Conti, and A. Szameit, Journal of Optics 20 (2018) 065201

Plasmon-enhanced spin-orbit interaction of light in graphene

We develop a novel theoretical framework describing polariton-enhanced spin-orbit interaction of light on the surface of two-dimensional media. Starting from the integral formulation of electromagnetic scattering, we exploit the reduced dimensionality of the system to introduce a quantum-like formalism particularly suitable to fully take advantage of rotational invariance. Our description is closely related to that of a fictitious spin one quantum particle living in the atomically thin medium, whose orbital, spin and total angular momenta play a key role in the scattering process. Conservation of total angular momentum upon scattering enables to physically unveil the interaction between radiation and the two-dimensional material along with the detailed exchange processes among orbital and spin components. In addition, we specialize our model to doped extended graphene, finding such spin-orbit interaction to be dramatically enhanced by the excitation of surface plasmon polaritons propagating radially along the graphene sheet. We provide several examples of the enormous possibilities offered by plasmon-enhanced spin-orbit interaction of light including vortex generation, mixing, and engineering of tunable deep subwavelength arrays of optical traps in the near field. Our results hold great potential for the development of nano-scaled quantum active elements and logic gates for the manipulation of hyper-entangled photon states as well as for the design of artificial media imprinted by engineered photonic lattices tweezing cold atoms into the desired patterns.

A. Ciattoni, C. Rizza, H. W. H. Lee, C. Conti, A. Marini in ArXiv:1804.10533

Phase-matching-free parametric oscillators based on two dimensional semiconductors

Optical parametric oscillators are widely-used pulsed and continuous-wave tunable sources for innumerable applications, as in quantum technologies, imaging and biophysics. A key drawback is material dispersion imposing the phase-matching condition that generally entails a complex setup design, thus hindering tunability and miniaturization. Here we show that the burden of phase-matching is surprisingly absent in parametric micro-resonators adopting monolayer transition-metal dichalcogenides as quadratic nonlinear materials. By the exact solution of nonlinear Maxwell equations and first-principle calculation of the semiconductor nonlinear response, we devise a novel kind of phase-matching-free miniaturized parametric oscillator operating at conventional pump intensities. We find that different two-dimensional semiconductors yield degenerate and non-degenerate emission at various spectral regions thanks to doubly-resonant mode excitation, which can be tuned through the incidence angle of the external pump laser. In addition we show that high-frequency electrical modulation can be achieved by doping through electrical gating that efficiently shifts the parametric oscillation threshold. Our results pave the way for new ultra-fast tunable micron-sized sources of entangled photons, a key device underpinning any quantum protocol. Highly-miniaturized optical parametric oscillators may also be employed in lab-on-chip technologies for biophysics, environmental pollution detection and security.

Ciattoni, Marini, Rizza, Conti in arXiv:1707.08843

Designing Beauty: The Art of Cellular Automata

A new book on the Game of Life, and specifically on the Art of the Game of Life has been published by Springer. Edited by A. Adamatzky and Genaro J. Martinez, the book is part of the Series on Emergence, Complexity and Computation with artistic representations from simple mathematical models at the edge of physics and biology. The book contains a chapter by C. Conti on the Enlightened Game of Life.


Quantum X Waves with Orbital Angular Momentum in Nonlinear Dispersive Media

Marco Ornigotti, Claudio Conti and Alex Szameit develop a rigorous theory of propagation invariant “X-wave” pulses with orbital angular momentum. These new photon states form and propagate in quadratic and cubic nonlinear media, and represent a novel tool for quantum information and entanglement. X-waves also allow a new 3D+1 representation of the propagation of light in nonlinear media as a spinning quantum fluid.