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
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 ℏω. 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
Solitons and nonlinear waves emit resonant radiation in the presence of perturbations. This effect is relevant for nonlinear fiber optics, supercontinuum generation, rogue waves, and complex nonlinear dynamics. However, resonant radiation is narrowband, and the challenge is finding novel ways to generate and tailor broadband spectra. We theoretically predict that nonlinear self-accelerated pulses emit a novel form of synchrotron radiation that is extremely broadband and controllable. We develop an analytic theory and confirm the results by numerical analysis. This new form of supercontinuum generation can be highly engineered by shaping the trajectory of the nonlinear self-accelerated pulses. Our results may find applications in novel highly efficient classical and quantum sources for spectroscopy, biophysics, security, and metrology.
Lifu Zhang, Xiang Zhang, Davide Pierangeli, Ying Li, Dianyuan Fan, and Claudio Conti in Optics Express 26, 14710 (2018)
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
Optical parametric oscillators are widely used as pulsed and continuous-wave tunable sources for innumerable applications, such as quantum technologies, imaging, and biophysics. A key drawback is material dispersion, which imposes a phase-matching condition that generally entails a complex design and setup, thus hindering tunability and miniaturization. Here we show that the burden of phase-matching is surprisingly absent in parametric micro-resonators utilizing mono-layer transition-metal dichalcogenides as quadratic nonlinear materials. By the exact solution of nonlinear Maxwell equations and first-principle calculations 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 due to doubly resonant mode excitation, which can be tuned by varying the incidence angle of the external pump laser. In addition, we show that high-frequency electrical modulation can be achieved by doping via electrical gating, which can be used to efficiently shift the threshold for parametric oscillation. Our results pave the way for the realization of novel 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, detection of environmental pollution and security.
A. Ciattoni, A. Marini, C. Rizza and C. Conti, Light: Science & Applications 7 (2018) 5