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The pure-quartic soliton laser


Ultrashort pulse generation hinges on the careful management of dispersion. Traditionally, this has exclusively involved second-order dispersion, with higher-order dispersion treated as a nuisance to be minimized. Here, we show that this higher-order dispersion can be strategically leveraged to access an uncharted regime of ultrafast laser operation. In particular, our mode-locked laser—with an intracavity spectral pulse shaper—emits pure-quartic soliton pulses that arise from the interaction of fourth-order dispersion and the Kerr nonlinearity. Phase-resolved measurements demonstrate that their pulse energy scales with the third power of the inverse pulse duration. This implies a strong increase in the energy of short pure-quartic solitons compared with conventional solitons, for which the energy scales as the inverse of the pulse duration. These results not only demonstrate a novel approach to ultrafast lasers, but more fundamentally, they clarify the use of higher-order dispersion for optical pulse control, enabling innovations in nonlinear optics and its applications.

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Fig. 1: The principle of operation of the PQS laser.
Fig. 2: Conventional soliton and PQS regimes.
Fig. 3: Sideband analysis.
Fig. 4: Measured energy-width scaling properties of the emitted PQS pulses for different values of applied quartic dispersion.

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


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This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project (grant no. DP180102234), the University of Sydney Professor Harry Messel Research Fellowship and the Asian Office of Aerospace R&D (AOARD) (grant no. FA2386-19-1-4067).

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Authors and Affiliations



A.B.-R., C.M.d.S. and D.D.H. conceived the idea of the PQS laser. A.F.J.R., D.D.H. and A.B.-R. designed the experiment. A.F.J.R. performed the experiments and the numerical simulations. K.K.K.T. and C.M.d.S. carried out the theoretical analysis. C.M.d.S. and A.B.-R. supervised the overall project. All the authors contributed to the interpretation of data and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Antoine F. J. Runge.

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A.F.J.R., D.D.H., C.M.d.S. and A.B.-R. have submitted a provisional patent application based on the ideas presented in this work.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–6, Discussion and Table 1.

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Runge, A.F.J., Hudson, D.D., Tam, K.K.K. et al. The pure-quartic soliton laser. Nat. Photonics 14, 492–497 (2020).

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