Engineers Ride 'Rogue' Laser Waves to Build Better Light Sources



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society
+1.202.416.1435
lmeyer@osa.org

Devin Powell
American Institute of Physics
301.209.3099
dpowell@aip.org

Jason Socrates Bardi
American Institute of Physics
301.209.3091
jbardi@aip.org

Engineers Ride ‘Rogue’ Laser Waves to Build Better Light Sources

New Technology Presented at World's Largest Optical Communication Conference Produces Better Sources of White Light

WASHINGTON, March 4—A freak wave at sea is a terrifying sight. Seven stories tall, wildly unpredictable, and incredibly destructive, such waves have been known to emerge from calm waters and swallow ships whole. But rogue waves of light -- rare and explosive flare-ups that are mathematically similar to their oceanic counterparts -- have recently been tamed by a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

UCLA's Daniel Solli, Claus Ropers, and Bahram Jalali are putting rogue light waves to work in order to produce brighter, more stable white light sources, a breakthrough in optics that may pave the way for better clocks, faster cameras, and more powerful radar and communications technologies. Their findings will be presented during the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC), taking place March 22-26 in San Diego.

Rogue bursts of light were first spotted a year ago during the generation of a special kind of radiation called supercontinuum (SC). SC light is created by shooting laser pulses into crystals and optical fibers. Like the incandescent bulb in a lamp, it shines with a white light that spans an extremely broad spectrum. But unlike a bulb’s soft diffuse glow, SC light maintains the brightness and directionality of a laser beam. This makes it suitable for a wide variety of applications -- a fact recognized by the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded in part to scientists who used SC light to measure atomic transitions with extraordinary accuracy.

Despite more than 40 years of research, SC light has proven to be difficult to control and prone to instability. Though rogue waves are not the cause of this instability, the UCLA researchers suspected that a better understanding of how noise in SC light triggers rogue waves could improve their control of this bright white light. Rogue waves occur randomly in SC light and are so short-lived that the team had to employ a new technique just to spot them. Although they are rare, they are more common than would be predicted by a bell curve distribution, governed instead by the same “L-shaped” statistics that describe other extreme events like volcanic eruptions and stock market crashes.

By tinkering with the initial laser pulses used to create SC light, Solli and his team discovered how to reproduce the rogue waves, harness them, and put them to work. His results, to be presented at OFC/NFOEC 2009, demonstrate that a weak burst of light, broadcast at the perfect “tickle spot,” produces a rogue wave on demand. Instead of disrupting things, it stabilizes SC light, reducing fluctuations by at least 90 percent. The seed wave also decreases the amount of energy needed to produce a supercontinuum by 25 percent. The process, says Solli, is similar to boiling water. “If you heat pure water, it can boil suddenly and explosively,” he says. “But normal water has nucleation sites for bubble formation that -- like our seed waves stimulate the supercontinuum -- help the water boil smoothly with less heat.”

This new-and-improved white light, funded by DARPA, could help to push forward a range of technologies. Solli and Jalali are developing time-stretching devices that slow down electrical signals; such devices could be used in new optical analog-to-digital converters 1,000 times faster than current electronic versions. These converters could help to overcome the current conversion-rate bottleneck that holds back advanced radar and communication technologies. Stabilized SC light could also be used to create super-fast cameras for laboratory use or incorporated into optical clockworks.

The talk, "Stimulated Supercontinuum Generation," presentation OWU7, will take place Wednesday, March 25 at 5 p.m. PDT.

About OFC/NFOEC
Since 1985, the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC) has provided an annual backdrop for the optical communications field to network and share research and innovations. In 2004, OFC joined forces with the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC), creating the largest and most comprehensive international event for optical communications. By combining an exposition of approximately 600 companies with a unique program of peer-reviewed technical programming and special focused educational sessions, OFC/NFOEC provides an unparalleled opportunity, reaching every audience from service providers to optical equipment manufacturers and beyond.

OFC/NFOEC is managed by the Optical Society (OSA) and co-sponsored by OSA, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Communications Society (IEEE/ComSoc) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Photonics Society (formerly LEOS). Acting as non-financial technical co-sponsor is Telcordia Technologies, Inc.

Editor’s Note: Experts Available
Author:
Daniel R. Solli, University of California, Los Angeles
Bahram Jalali, University of California, Los Angeles

Subject-Matter Source:
Magnus Karlsson, University of Chalmers, Sweden
Chair, OFC/NFOEC Subcommittee A, Fibers and Optical Propagation Effects

An artists representation of a rogue wave appearing during supercontinuum generation. Credit: UCLA
An artists representation of a rogue wave appearing during supercontinuum generation. Credit: UCLA.

###

Share:
Keyword
Topics

The Optical Society Opposes Proposed Cuts to Science Funding in 2018 Budget

23 May 2017 The Optical Society Opposes Proposed Cuts to Science Funding in 2018 Budget WASHINGTON —The Optical Society (OSA) issued the following statement on the release of President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget. The proposed budget will cut critical investments in research and development at a number of science-related government agencies, including the...

Added: 23 May 2017


The Optical Society Commemorates the Rich Tradition and History of Optics Letters

22 May 2017   The Optical Society Commemorates the Rich Tradition and History of Optics Letters Journal Celebrates 40th Anniversary in 2017  WASHINGTON – First launched in 1977 as a means to quickly disseminate the latest in optics research and provide the optics and photonics community with a true Letters-style publication, Optics Letters has, over the course of its long...

Added: 22 May 2017


CLEO 2017 Concludes in San Jose with Strong Attendance; Laser Science Advancements Highlighted

CLEO 2017 Concludes in San Jose with Strong Attendance; Focus on Breakthrough Research in Laser Science and Commercial Applications Plenary presentations detailed latest developments in Gravitational Wave Science, Ultrafast Lasers, Quantum Electronics and Biophotonics SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA — The Optical Society announced today that CLEO 2017 (CLEO) has concluded with more than 4...

Added: 18 May 2017


The Optical Society Announces 2017 Class of Senior Members

16 May 2017 The Optical Society Announces 2017 Class of Senior Members WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the approval of 182 new Senior Members — an OSA distinction that provides well-established individuals recognition for their experience and professional accomplishments within the field of optics and photonics. The 182 Senior...

Added: 16 May 2017


2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering Awarded to OSA Member Nick Holonyak, Jr.

12 May 2017   2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering Awarded to OSA Member Nick Holonyak, Jr. WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA), the leading global professional organization in optics and photonics, congratulates Honorary member Nick Holonyak, Jr. on recieving the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering. Holonayk developed the first visible...

Added: 12 May 2017


The Optical Society Announces Plenary Highlights at 2017 Imaging and Applied Optics Congress

9 May 2017  The Optical Society Announces Plenary Highlights at 2017 Imaging and Applied Optics CongressPlenary to feature distinguished cinematographer and ‘Intelligent Transportation’ expert SAN FRANCISCO – Optical imaging technologies make a significant impact on media, medicine, autonomous machines and robotics. They can be used for imaging and sensing...

Added: 09 May 2017


The Optical Society Applauds Congress Supporting Science in 2017 Appropriations Bill

4 May 2017  The Optical Society Applauds Congress Supporting Science in 2017 Appropriations Bill WASHINGTON —The Optical Society (OSA) issued the following statement on the passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill by the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. The bill keeps critical funding for various science agencies at or near levels approved by...

Added: 04 May 2017


New Fiber-Based Sensor Could Quickly Detect Structural Problems in Bridges and Dams

04 May 2017   New Fiber-Based Sensor Could Quickly Detect Structural Problems in Bridges and Dams Faster distributed sensor detects changes in temperature or strain at 1 million points over a 10-kilometer optical fiber   WASHINGTON — Today, there is great interest in using distributed sensors to continually monitor the structural health of large structures such as dams...

Added: 04 May 2017


Members of The Optical Society Inducted into the 2018 National Academy of Sciences

2 May 2017 Members of The Optical Society Inducted into the 2018 National Academy of SciencesLeaders in Gravitational Wave Science, Nergis Mavalvala and Gabriela González, Selected for Elite Honorary Society WASHINGTON – The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a private organization dedicated to the furtherance of science, today announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign...

Added: 02 May 2017


The Optical Society Foundation Announces 2017 Innovation School

1 May 2017  The Optical Society Foundation Announces 2017 Innovation SchoolOfferings in pitch development, client discovery and concept validation for early-career professionals WASHINGTON – The Optical Society Foundation (OSAF) invites early-career professionals in the field of optics and photonics to attend The Innovation School at The Optical Society in Washington, D.C. from 23...

Added: 01 May 2017


OSA Members Visit Capitol Hill to Encourage Continued Investment in Scientific Research

27 April 2017   30 Members of The Optical Society Visit Capitol Hill to Encourage Continued Investment in Scientific Research, Engineering and Technology  WASHINGTON – Members of The Optical Society (OSA) joined colleagues from the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) in taking part in meetings with over 70 Congressional and Senate offices encouraging both Republican and...

Added: 27 Apr 2017


New Fiber Optic Probe Brings Endoscopic Diagnosis of Cancer Closer to the Clinic

27 April 2017   New Fiber Optic Probe Brings Endoscopic Diagnosis of Cancer Closer to the Clinic Compact handheld probe can be used for microscopic analysis of tissue  without any special stains or preparation   WASHINGTON — In an important step toward endoscopic diagnosis of cancer, researchers have developed a handheld fiber optic probe that can be used to perform...

Added: 27 Apr 2017