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Extreme waveform compression with a nonlinear temporal focusing mirror


Dealing with the increase in digital optical data transmission rates requires innovative approaches for stretching or compressing optical waveforms beyond the bandwidth limitations inherent in conventional electro‐optical systems. To this aim, photonic platforms exploiting ultrafast nonlinear phenomena have been successfully applied to the temporal stretching of optical waveforms. However, the inverse process, that is, the temporal compression of arbitrary lightwaves, has remained largely unexploited so far. Here we present an experimental demonstration of the extreme temporal compression of optical waveforms, including non‐trivial on‐demand time reversal. The method is based on counterpropagating degenerate four‐photon interaction in birefringent optical fibres. We demonstrate the performance of this system by generating the ultrafast replica of data packets with record temporal compression factors ranging from 4,350 to 13,000. This approach is scalable and offers great promise for ultrafast arbitrary optical waveform generation and related applications.

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Fig. 1: Temporal compression system.
Fig. 2: Experimental demonstration of temporal compression of a 10.0 Mbit s–1 10‑bit‑long sequence into a 43.5 Gbit s–1 replica.
Fig. 3: Temporal compression factor M versus fibre birefringence.
Fig. 4: Experimental result of temporal compression of a MHz-bandwidth arbitrary waveform into a multi-gigahertz replica.
Fig. 5: Numerical results showing the temporal compression of an analogue optical waveform for different values of fibre birefringence.

Data availability

All data generated in the present study as well as simulation codes are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We acknowledge A. Picozzi, P. Béjot, M. Guasoni, B. Kibler, C. Finot, A. Parriaux, G. Millot, H. Zhang, F. Leo and S. Pitois for fruitful discussions. We also acknowledge T. Villedieu from iXblue for providing the fibre parameters. J.F. acknowledges financial support from the CNRS, IRP Wall-IN project (CNRS research collaboration agreement no. 241655) and financial support from the Conseil Régional de Bourgogne Franche-Comté, International Mobility Program. This work is supported by la délégation régionale à la recherche et à la technologie and the European Union through the PO FEDER-FSE Bourgogne 2014/2020 programs. This work has benefited from the facilities of the SMARTLIGHT platform in Bourgogne Franche-Comté (EQUIPEX + ANR-21-ESRE-0040). S.C. and M.E. acknowledge financial support from The Royal Society of New Zealand, in the form of Marsden Funding (18-UOA-310) and Rutherford Discovery Fellowships.

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Authors and Affiliations



J.F. and N.B. designed the experimental setup. J.F. and N.B. performed the experiments. N.B. and J.F. performed the numerical simulations. S.C. and M.E. provided theoretical assistance. All the authors have contributed to the interpretation of the results. J.F., S.C. and M.E. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julien Fatome.

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Nature Photonics thanks Stefan Wabnitz and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Sections 1–4 and Figs. 1–3.

Supplementary Video 1

Numerical simulation of the temporal compression of a data sequence.

Supplementary Video 2

Same data as in Supplementary Video 1, but the incident data sequence is replaced by an arbitrary-shaped waveform.

Supplementary Video 3

Spatiotemporal evolution of the temporal compression of a data sequence and the simultaneous temporal inversion.

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Berti, N., Coen, S., Erkintalo, M. et al. Extreme waveform compression with a nonlinear temporal focusing mirror. Nat. Photon. 16, 822–827 (2022).

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