The institute
FEMTO's news

You are here

Chaos and rogue waves in a supercontinuum laser

In collaboration with the Universities of Tampere, Aston and ICB laboratory, FEMTO-ST researchers have made significant headway in the ongoing effort to understand the ultrafast chaotic nature of lasers, elucidating for the first time their noise-like pulse operation.

Results appeared in Nature Communications, Sept. 22, 2021.

Lasers that emit stable ultrafast femtosecond pulses of light are widely used in technology and industry, and have also been central to fundamental Nobel Prize-winning research.  But in addition to such highly stable operation, such lasers can also be configured to produce highly unstable and irregular output, and in this case their study yields new insights into the nature of chaos, the properties of turbulence, and the emergence of giant extreme rogue waves. However, although such laser instabilities have been known for decades, their experimental study is challenging, and their origins are poorly understood.

Research published in Nature Communications has now reported a major advance in our understanding of the chaotic operation of lasers. In particular, a special class of optical fibre laser has been built to operate only in a highly chaotic regime, and this has allowed advanced experimental techniques to be used to comprehensively measure its instability characteristics. The measurements used state of the art real time methods to build a detailed picture of the laser fluctuations on multiple timescales: from random pulses with duration shorter than a picosecond (a trillionth of second) to instabilities evolving over milliseconds in the laboratory. The experiments have been complemented by a new numerical model which reveals the central role played by incoherent supercontinuum generation dynamics, a highly nonlinear process whereby an initial seed with narrow spectrum experiences massive broadening and leads to the generation of new wavelengths. The model agrees quantitatively with experiment over an optical bandwidth as broad as 1000 nm and a three-order of magnitude dynamic range, representing one of the most remarkable tests of nonlinear laser modelling ever reported.

 These findings have also shown that the supercontinuum laser generates extreme rogue wave pulses and turbulent characteristics as a consequence of unstable soliton dynamics in the cavity.  The results have answered the physical question relating to the mechanisms driving the spectral broadening and instability in such lasers, and may point to approaches to generate even broader spectral bandwidths for applications such as incoherent imaging. Possible interdisciplinary applications may include attempting to create a similarly incoherent resonator for other classes of nonlinear wave such as in hydrodynamics.

The research was performed as part of a collaboration between the Institut FEMTO-ST and the ICB Laboratory in France (CNRS and the University of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), as well as international partners from Tampere University (Finland) and Aston University (United Kingdom).

Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-25861-4

  1. Meng et al. Intracavity incoherent supercontinuum dynamics and rogue waves in a broadband dissipative soliton laser. Nature Communications 12 (2021). DOI : 10.1038/s41467-021-25861-4

Contact : John Dudley

« Typical chaotic pulse emission from the supercontinuum fiber laser"

  • Two Best Paper awards at Photonics West

    Mathilde Hary and Maxime Romanet win two of the 5 awards for best oral presentations at the world's leading optics-photonics conference

    Read more
  • John Dudley awarded EPS Prize for Research into the Science of Light

    This award – jointly with Goëry Genty from Tampere University – recognizes their pioneering contributions to ultrafast nonlinear fibre optics.

    Read more
  • Michaël Gauthier, new director of FEMTO-ST

    A new team is taking over the management of the institute for a 5-year term starting in January 2024.

    Read more
  • Nadia YOUSFI STEINER awarded the Blondel 2023 medal

    This medal recognizes the decisive contributions of her work on the resilience of fuel cell and hydrogen systems

    Read more
  • Maxence Leveziel wins CNRS robotics thesis award

    His work has led to the development of a miniature robot capable of manipulating micrometric objects at unprecedented speeds.

    Read more
  • Thibaut Sylvestre elected Optica Fellow 2024

    Thibaut is one of the 129 newly elected Optica Fellows, honored for his pioneering contributions to fiber optics and fiber lasers

    Read more
  • New Academic Year for the EIPHI Graduate School

    200 new students join its 16 international master's programs in 2023-2024

    Read more
  • Two best student paper awards for Ishamol Labbaveettil

    Awards for her PhD work on KNbO3 films

    Read more
  • Dissociating Nitrogen Molecules Using Silicon Atoms

    Researchers from FEMTO-ST have just demonstrated a novel process for dissociating nitrogen molecules through low-energy footprint processes, a crucial step towards the decarbonized production of high-value-added molecules.

    Read more
  • DESCROIX-VERNIER ETHICSCIENCE award for Agathe FIGAROL

    An innovative tumor model on a microchip to fight brain cancer

    Read more

Pages