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High-energy pulse self-compression and ultraviolet generation through soliton dynamics in hollow capillary fibres


Optical soliton dynamics can cause extreme alteration of the temporal and spectral shape of a propagating light pulse. This occurs at up to kilowatt peak powers in glass-core optical fibres and at the gigawatt level in gas-filled microstructured hollow-core fibres. Here, we demonstrate optical soliton dynamics in large-core hollow capillary fibres. This enables scaling of soliton effects by several orders of magnitude to the multi-millijoule energy and terawatt peak power level. We experimentally demonstrate two key soliton effects. First, we observe self-compression to sub-cycle pulses and infer the creation of sub-femtosecond field waveforms—a route to high-power optical attosecond pulse generation. Second, we efficiently generate continuously tunable high-energy (1–16 μJ) pulses in the vacuum and deep ultraviolet (110 nm to 400 nm) through resonant dispersive-wave emission. These results promise to be the foundation of a new generation of table-top light sources for ultrafast strong-field physics and advanced spectroscopy.

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Fig. 1: Comparison between post-compression and soliton dynamics in HCF.
Fig. 2: Scaling of soliton dynamics in gas-filled hollow fibres.
Fig. 3: Soliton fission length scaling in helium-filled HCFs.
Fig. 4: Soliton self-compression in gas-filled HCFs.
Fig. 5: Tunable RDW emission in gas-filled HCFs.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

The computer code used in this study will be made available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.


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This work was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme: Starting Grant agreement HISOL no. 679649. This work used EPCCs Cirrus HPC Service (

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J.C.T. proposed this work, the initial theory and the experimental design. He also performed the numerical simulations and drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the experimental implementation and refinement, the analysis and discussion of the results, and the editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to John C. Travers.

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Travers, J.C., Grigorova, T.F., Brahms, C. et al. High-energy pulse self-compression and ultraviolet generation through soliton dynamics in hollow capillary fibres. Nat. Photonics 13, 547–554 (2019).

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