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Analogues of nonlinear optics using terahertz Josephson plasma waves in layered superconductors

Nature Physics volume 2, pages 521525 (2006) | Download Citation



Electromagnetic waves in layered superconductors are known as Josephson plasma waves (JPWs). An important property of JPWs is the gap in their energy spectrum: JPWs can propagate if the frequency ω is above the Josephson plasma frequency ωJ (refs 1, 2), which being in the terahertz (THz) range, is important for applications3. This feature is fuelling a growing interest in studies of JPWs (see, for example, refs 47). However, nonlinear (NL) JPWs have not yet been studied. It is a challenge to understand nonlinearities around the plasma frequency, where the interplay between the unusual spectrum and the nonlinearity of the JPWs is most pronounced. Here, we predict the propagation of NL JPWs with frequencies below ωJ, which is unusual for plasma-like excitations. In analogy to NL optics, these waves exhibit numerous remarkable features, including the slowing down of light (when the group velocity ω/k≈0), self-focusing effects and the pumping of weaker waves by stronger ones. The nonlinearity for ω>ωJ can potentially be used for transforming continuous THz radiation into amplified pulses.

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This work was supported in part by the NSA and ARDA under AFOSR contract No. F49620-02-1-0334, by the NSF grant No. EIA-0130383, the JSPS-RFBR project No 06-02-91200, the RFBR project 06-02-16691, and by an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship.

Author information


  1. Frontier Research System, The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Wako-shi, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

    • Sergey Savel’ev
    • , A. L. Rakhmanov
    • , V. A. Yampol’skii
    •  & Franco Nori
  2. Department of Physics, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK

    • Sergey Savel’ev
  3. Institute for Theoretical and Applied Electrodynamics Russian Academy of Sciences, 125412 Moscow, Russia

    • A. L. Rakhmanov
  4. A. Ya. Usikov Institute for Radiophysics and Electronics Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, 61085 Kharkov, Ukraine

    • V. A. Yampol’skii
  5. Center for Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1040, USA

    • Franco Nori


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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Franco Nori.

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