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

Synchrotron resonant radiation from nonlinear self-accelerating pulses

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)