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Demonstration of temporal cloaking


Recent research has uncovered a remarkable ability to manipulate and control electromagnetic fields to produce effects such as perfect imaging and spatial cloaking1,2. To achieve spatial cloaking, the index of refraction is manipulated to flow light from a probe around an object in such a way that a ‘hole’ in space is created, and the object remains hidden3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14. Alternatively, it may be desirable to cloak the occurrence of an event over a finite time period, and the idea of temporal cloaking has been proposed in which the dispersion of the material is manipulated in time, producing a ‘time hole’ in the probe beam to hide the occurrence of the event from the observer15. This approach is based on accelerating the front part of a probe light beam and slowing down its rear part to create a well controlled temporal gap—inside which an event occurs—such that the probe beam is not modified in any way by the event. The probe beam is then restored to its original form by the reverse manipulation of the dispersion. Here we present an experimental demonstration of temporal cloaking in an optical fibre-based system by applying concepts from the space–time duality between diffraction and dispersive broadening16. We characterize the performance of our temporal cloak by detecting the spectral modification of a probe beam due to an optical interaction and show that the amplitude of the event (at the picosecond timescale) is reduced by more than an order of magnitude when the cloak is turned on. These results are a significant step towards the development of full spatio-temporal cloaking.

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Figure 1: Schematics of the temporal cloak using a pair of STLs.
Figure 2: Experimental configuration for cloaking an event in time.
Figure 3: Temporal gap in a probe beam.
Figure 4: Experimental results of the temporal cloaking.
Figure 5: Intermediate cloaking.

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We thank D. J. Gauthier for his comments. This work was supported by the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency and by the Center for Nanoscale Systems, supported by the National Science Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR).

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M.F., A.F. and Y.O. performed the experiments and the numerical simulations. A.L.G. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Alexander L. Gaeta.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Fridman, M., Farsi, A., Okawachi, Y. et al. Demonstration of temporal cloaking. Nature 481, 62–65 (2012).

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