Real-time full-field characterization of transient dissipative soliton dynamics in a mode-locked laser

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Dissipative solitons are remarkably localized states of a physical system that arise from the dynamical balance between nonlinearity, dispersion and environmental energy exchange. They are the most universal form of soliton that can exist, and are seen in far-from-equilibrium systems in many fields, including chemistry, biology and physics. There has been particular interest in studying their properties in mode-locked lasers, but experiments have been limited by the inability to track the dynamical soliton evolution in real time. Here, we use simultaneous dispersive Fourier transform and time-lens measurements to completely characterize the spectral and temporal evolution of ultrashort dissipative solitons as their dynamics pass through a transient unstable regime with complex break-up and collisions before stabilization. Further insight is obtained from reconstruction of the soliton amplitude and phase and calculation of the corresponding complex-valued eigenvalue spectrum. These findings show how real-time measurements provide new insights into ultrafast transient dynamics in optics.

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This work was supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche project LABEX ACTION ANR11-LABX-0001-01, the Region of Franche-Comté Project CORPS and the Academy of Finland (Grants 267576 and 298463). The authors also thank K. V. Reddy for providing technical details concerning the soliton operating regime of the Pritel laser used in these experiments.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: P. Ryczkowski, M. Närhi and C. Billet.


  1. Laboratory of Photonics, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland

    • P. Ryczkowski
    • , M. Närhi
    •  & G. Genty
  2. Institut FEMTO-ST, UMR 6174 CNRS-Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Besançon, France

    • C. Billet
    • , J.-M. Merolla
    •  & J. M. Dudley


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All authors participated in all the experimental work and data analysis reported, and in the writing and review of the final manuscript. G.G. and J.M.D. planned the research project and provided overall supervision.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to J. M. Dudley.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Phase retrieval algorithm and nonlinear Fourier transform of typical pulse shapes.