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Transformation and control of ultra-short pulses in dispersion-engineered photonic crystal fibres


Photonic crystal fibres (PCFs) offer greatly enhanced design freedom compared to standard optical fibres. For example, they allow precise control of the chromatic dispersion (CD) profile—the frequency dependence of propagation speed—over a broad wavelength range. This permits studies of nonlinear pulse propagation in previously inaccessible parameter regimes. Here we report on spectral broadening of 100-fs pulses in PCFs with anomalously flat CD profiles. Maps of the spectral and spatio-temporal behaviour as a function of power show that dramatic conversion (to both longer and shorter wavelengths) can occur in remarkably short lengths of fibre, depending on the magnitude and shape of the CD profile. Because the PCFs used are single-mode at all wavelengths, the light always emerges in a fundamental guided mode. Excellent agreement is obtained between the experimental results and numerical solutions of the nonlinear wave equation, indicating that the underlying processes can be reliably modelled. These results show how, through appropriate choice of CD, nonlinearities can be efficiently harnessed to generate laser light at new wavelengths.

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Figure 1: Dispersion profiles for three PCFs (A–C) and a Corning SMF28 fibre (D).
Figure 2: Experimental (left) and theoretical (right) output intensity spectra for the PCFs in Fig. 1, as a function of the average power.
Figure 3: Modulational instability gain in systems with different D(λ) (the grey to white regions represent medium to high gain on a linear scale; gain is zero in the black regions).
Figure 4: The pulse evolution, plotted against propagation distance, for fibre A in Fig. 1: a, Pulse delay (relative to a time frame moving at the pulse's average group velocity); b, spectrum.
Figure 5: The pulse evolution, plotted against propagation distance, for fibre B in Fig. 1.


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We thank B. J. Mangan of BlazePhotonics Ltd for technical assistance in fabricating the fibres.

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Correspondence to J. C. Knight or F. G. Omenetto.

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Reeves, W., Skryabin, D., Biancalana, F. et al. Transformation and control of ultra-short pulses in dispersion-engineered photonic crystal fibres. Nature 424, 511–515 (2003).

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