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Nonlinear optics: Now in the terahertz range

Date:
June 13, 2012
Source:
Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Summary:
Researchers have recently reported on the direct observation of a nonlinear-optical effect, occurring in the regime of single-cycle pulse of light at terahertz (THz) frequencies. They used a doped semiconductor as an efficient nonlinear medium, where the THz-range optical nonlinearity arises from the response of free-electron plasma to THz electric fields.

As the field strength in the incident THz pulse (the one on the left) grows, the THz pulse transmitted through the semiconductor (the one on the right) experiences a larger time delay due to self-phase modulation.
Credit: DTU

The researchers at DTU Fotonik, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research -- MPIP (Mainz, Germany), and SLAC Linear Accelerator Laboratory (California, USA) have recently reported on the direct observation of a nonlinear-optical effect, occurring in the regime of single-cycle pulse of light at terahertz (THz) frequencies. In their paper, published in Physical Review B , they used a doped semiconductor as an efficient nonlinear medium, where the THz-range optical nonlinearity arises from the response of free-electron plasma to THz electric fields.

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The single-cycle pulses of THz light, propagating through such a medium, experienced an effect called the self-phase modulation (SPM), which led to the nonlinear reshaping and time delay of the THz pulses. The SPM is one of the most important effects in nonlinear optics. It is used in numerous applications, ranging from supercontinuum generation for biophotonics imaging to ultra-high speed optical signal processing in telecom systems.

Single-cycle pulses, irrespective of the frequency range to which they belong, inherently have an extremely broad spectral bandwidth covering many octaves of frequencies. Unlike the single-cycle pulses at optical frequencies, the THz pulses can be easily generated and detected in the time-domain using conventional femtosecond lasers. One of the discoveries in this work was the coexistence of both positive and negative refractive index nonlinearity within the broad spectrum of a single-cycle THz pulse. This is quite a unique observation for nonlinear optics in general, which demonstrates a great potential of using THz pulses as accessible model tools for study of single-cycle nonlinear optical effects.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dmitry Turchinovich, Jørn Hvam, Matthias Hoffmann. Self-phase modulation of a single-cycle terahertz pulse by nonlinear free-carrier response in a semiconductor. Physical Review B, 2012; 85 (20) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.85.201304

Cite This Page:

Technical University of Denmark (DTU). "Nonlinear optics: Now in the terahertz range." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613102128.htm>.
Technical University of Denmark (DTU). (2012, June 13). Nonlinear optics: Now in the terahertz range. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613102128.htm
Technical University of Denmark (DTU). "Nonlinear optics: Now in the terahertz range." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613102128.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

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