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


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

LSA Paper: Phase-matching-free parametric oscillators based on two-dimensional semiconductor

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