Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

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

Date:
March 11, 2009
Source:
Optical Society of America
Summary:
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.

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).

Related Articles


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 March 25.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Optical Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Optical Society of America. "Engineers Ride 'Rogue' Laser Waves To Build Better Light Sources." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305121729.htm>.
Optical Society of America. (2009, March 11). Engineers Ride 'Rogue' Laser Waves To Build Better Light Sources. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305121729.htm
Optical Society of America. "Engineers Ride 'Rogue' Laser Waves To Build Better Light Sources." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090305121729.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Sony's glasses module attaches to the temples of various eye- and sunglasses to add a display and wireless connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the cameras will be distributed starting Jan. 1. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins