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The laminar–turbulent transition in a fibre laser


Studying the transition from a linearly stable coherent laminar state to a highly disordered state of turbulence is conceptually and technically challenging, and of great interest because all pipe and channel flows are of that type1,2. In optics, understanding how a system loses coherence, as spatial size or the strength of excitation increases, is a fundamental problem of practical importance3,4,5. Here, we report our studies of a fibre laser that operates in both laminar and turbulent regimes. We show that the laminar phase is analogous to a one-dimensional coherent condensate and the onset of turbulence is due to the loss of spatial coherence. Our investigations suggest that the laminar–turbulent transition in the laser is due to condensate destruction by clustering dark and grey solitons. This finding could prove valuable for the design of coherent optical devices as well as systems operating far from thermodynamic equilibrium.

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Figure 1: Laminar–turbulent transition in the fibre laser experiment.
Figure 2: Coherent structures in spatiotemporal dynamics in experiment and numerical simulation for laminar and turbulent regimes.
Figure 3: Soliton clustering at the laminar–turbulent transition (numerical modelling) at fixed power.
Figure 4: Probability density function for the condensate lifetime showing the probabilistic nature of the laminar–turbulent transition via soliton clustering.


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The authors thank I. Vatnik for his support at the very early stage of the experiments. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation and US-Israel Binational Science Foundation grants (Israel), the European Research Council (project ULTRALASER), the Leverhulme Trust, the Royal Society (UK), the Russian Ministry of Science and Education (agreement 14.B25.31.0003) and the Dynasty Foundation (Russia).

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Authors and Affiliations



S.K.T. and G.F. initiated the study. D.V.C. conceived the experiment and, with S.S. and N.T., carried it out. E.G.T. and S.V.S. designed and conducted the numerical modelling. E.G.T. and X.S. designed the special laser mirrors. X.S. fabricated the laser mirrors. G.F., S.K.T. and D.V.C. guided the theoretical and experimental investigations. G.F., S.K.T., D.V.C., E.V.P., S.A.B., S.V.S., E.G.T., S.S. and N.T. analysed the data. G.F., S.K.T. and D.V.C. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to S. K. Turitsyn.

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Turitsyna, E., Smirnov, S., Sugavanam, S. et al. The laminar–turbulent transition in a fibre laser. Nature Photon 7, 783–786 (2013).

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