Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Optical wave-packet with nearly-programmable group velocities

Abstract

During the process of Bessel beam generation in free space, spatiotemporal optical wave-packets with tunable group velocities and accelerations can be created by deforming pulse-fronts of injected pulsed beams. So far, only one determined motion form (superluminal or luminal or subluminal for the case of group velocity; and accelerating or uniform-motion or decelerating for the case of acceleration) could be achieved in a single propagation path. Here we show that deformed pulse-fronts with well-designed axisymmetric distributions (unlike conical and spherical pulse-fronts used in previous studies) allow us to obtain nearly-programmable group velocities with several different motion forms in a single propagation path. Our simulation shows that this unusual optical wave-packet can propagate at alternating superluminal and subluminal group velocities along a straight-line trajectory with corresponding instantaneous accelerations that vary periodically between positive (acceleration) and negative (deceleration) values, almost encompassing all motion forms of the group velocity in a single propagation path. Such unusual optical wave-packets with nearly-programmable group velocities may offer new opportunities for optical and physical applications.

Introduction

Recent studies of non-diffraction beams include the Bessel, X, Y, Airy, and parabolic waves in linear mediums1,2,3,4,5,6, the self-trapping, self-focusing, and nonlinear X wave in nonlinear mediums7,8,9,10,11, and multidimensional solitons in complex systems12,13,14,15. Based on these studies, three-dimensional (3D) localized spatiotemporal optical wave-packets with long propagation distances and nearly-invariant intensity profiles have been widely demonstrated in both linear16,17,18 and nonlinear19,20,21,22 mediums. Applications of such wave-packets range from particle-manipulation to bio-imaging and plasma-physics. Beside the well-known properties of long-distance self-similarity and/or self-healing of these localized spatiotemporal optical wave-packets, tunable group velocity is another degree of freedom relevant to some novel applications. In nonlinear optics, the group velocity υg = c/ng (ng is the group refractive index and c is the speed of light) of an optical wave-packet can be well controlled by crafting the wavelength-dependent refractive index nλ23. However, some very special materials or systems are required24,25,26,27,28,29,30, challenging the application of this principle to linear systems where the controllability of ng is very limited.

The Bessel beam is a famous family of diffraction-free beams resulting from conical superposition, which usually propagates with a constant superluminal group velocity in free space31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39. By phase-modulating the incident cross-section, it is possible to produce self-accelerating Bessel-like beams having arbitrary curved trajectories40,41,42,43. In this case, the combination of a Bessel beam and a pulse can produce a superluminal and/or self-accelerating optical wave-packet18,44,45. For example, directly combining a Bessel beam with an Airy pulse can create a self-accelerating optical wave-packet in transmission materials18; however, the accelerating value is limited within the short pulse duration range. The X wave, demonstrated in both linear and nonlinear mediums, is another important limited diffraction beam46,47,48. In linear optics, broadband superposition of slightly distorted Bessel beams can create Bessel-X spatiotemporal optical wave-packets49,50, and in nonlinear optics pulsed beams with nonlinear material responses can generate X-shaped light bullets51. However, the controllability of group velocities of these X-shaped optical wave-packets is not high. The Airy beam also is a well-studied diffraction-free beam in which main intensity maxima and lobes tend to propagate52,53,54,55,56,57. By combing an Airy beam with a pulse, the resulting self-accelerating optical wave-packets can propagate at superluminal group velocities along parabolic trajectories in free space. In the above methods, group velocity-variable optical wave-packets in free space usually correspond to curved or bended propagation trajectories, allowing for novel applications that include particles guiding/trapping along curved paths and self-bending plasma channels generation58,59,60. In some other applications instead, straight-line propagation optical wave-packets with tunable group velocities have irreplaceable advantages.

In linear optics, it has recently been shown that spatiotemporal coupling permits high controllability of the group velocity and/or the acceleration of spatiotemporal optical wave-packets. Saari et al. and Abouraddy et al. invented a new type 2D spatiotemporal optical wave-packet by manipulating the spatial and temporal degrees of freedom jointly, where both diffractive spreading and pulse broadening are eliminated61,62. This optical wave-packet can be described by a spectral trajectory resulting from the intersection of the light-cone (kx, kz, ω/c) with a tilt plane (kz, ω/c) in spectral-space, where kx and kz are the transverse and longitudinal wavenumbers, respectively, x and z are the transverse and longitudinal coordinates, respectively, and ω is the angular frequency. By adjusting the tilt angle of the plane (kz, ω/c), the group velocity of the optical wave-packet in free space or in transmission materials can be controlled, including all motion forms, i.e. superluminal, subluminal, accelerating, decelerating, and backward-propagation63,64,65,66,67,68. Another spatiotemporal coupling method is to control the group velocity of the intensity peak of a focused ultra-short pulse within the extended Rayleigh length (named as sliding focus or flying focus) by combining temporal chirp and longitudinal chromatism. This method was independently demonstrated by Quéré et al. in theory69,70 and Froula et al. in experiments71. In this method, the longitudinal chromatism separates wavelength-dependent focuses along the propagation axis and the temporal chirp controls the appearance times of these focuses, so that the sliding/flying focus possesses a tunable effective group velocity, also achieving all motion forms (superluminal, subluminal, accelerating, decelerating, and backward-propagation). More recently, we theoretically demonstrated a third spatiotemporal coupling method to generate group velocity and acceleration tunable 3D optical wave-packets in free space72. The pulsed beam used for the Bessel beam generation is deformed to have an axisymmetric pulse-front which deviates from its plane phase-front. In the generation of the Gauss−Bessel optical wave-packet, the plane phase-front determines the Bessel beam generation in space, while the deformed pulse-front determines the optical wave-packet propagation in time. Consequently, the group velocity and acceleration of the optical wave-packet can be adjusted by changing the pulse-front deformation, also including all motion forms of superluminal, subluminal, accelerating, decelerating, and backward-propagation group velocities. In all these spatiotemporal coupling methods however, by controlling one degree of freedom it is possible to achieve only one determined motion form (superluminal or luminal or subluminal for the case of group velocity; and accelerating or uniform-motion or decelerating for the case of acceleration) in a single propagation path.

In this article, by combining well-designed complex axisymmetric pulse-front deformations with our recently reported method72, we achieve a nearly programmable group velocity with several different motion forms in a single propagation path. The created optical wave-packet can fly with superluminal and subluminal group velocities alternately, and the corresponding instantaneous acceleration varies between positive (accelerating) and negative (decelerating) values. For example, when periodically distributed axisymmetric pulse-front deformations are introduced, the group velocity and acceleration of optical wave-packets display periodical variations during propagation, showing an alternate appearance of superluminal−subliminal group velocities and accelerating−decelerating accelerations. This unusual optical wave-packet presenting different group velocity motion forms in a single propagation path may provide new opportunities for applications.

Results

Setup of the method

The schematic diagram of the method is shown in Fig. 1a. A collimated pulsed beam is reflected by a deformable mirror (DM) (or a free-surface mirror) to shape its pulse- and phase-fronts from a flat surface to a required axisymmetric surface. A transmission spatial light modulator (SLM) is positioned just behind DM to correct the phase-front back to the original flat surface for long-distance propagation while keeping the shaped axisymmetric pulse-front unchanged73. A beam splitter (BS) samples the shaped pulsed beam into a parabola telescope, which is used for three purposes: first, to image the shaped pulsed beam into the Bessel beam generation region formed by an axicon for suppressing propagation diffraction; second, to enhance the spatial resolution of the phase-front correction that is limited by the pixel size of SLM by beam reduction (ten times in this article); and third, to increase the instantaneous pulse-front variation across the beam aperture also by beam reduction. Finally, an ideal thin axicon is used to generate a Bessel beam in the conical superposition region.

Fig. 1: Setup for variable-group velocity optical wave-packet.
figure1

a In the setup, input Gaussian pulsed beam experiences reflection by a deformable mirror (DM) (or free-surface mirror), phase-front correction by a spatial light modulator (SLM), reflection by a beam splitter (BS), image relay and beam reduction by a parabola telescope, and finally Gauss−Bessel optical wave-packet (OWP) generation by an ideal thin axicon. b Optical field of the input pulsed beam has plane phase- and pulse-fronts. c Optical field with DM (without SLM) has deformed phase- and pulse-fronts. d Optical field with SLM has deformed pulse-front but near-plane phase-front. e Optical field after 5-m free propagation shows slight diffraction distortions. Insets in (ce) illustrate fine structures in a small regions of 200 μm × 60 fs. Inset in (c) shows smooth phase- and pulse-fronts, inset in (d) shows spatial amplitude modulation and residual small phase-front tilt induced by SLM pixel-pixel gap and pixel size, respectively, and inset in (e) shows smearing effect by propagation diffraction. f Surface deformation of DM. g Phase-front correction of SLM, and a small range is enlarged for observing the pixel effect. For observation, the carrier frequency in (be) is multiplied by 0.1 to avoid too fast oscillations.

Using the Simulation model and parameters given in the “Methods” section, the optical fields at different locations are calculated. Because the optical fields are always axisymmetric about the propagation axis, only the 2D distributions in the lateral plane of the rz plane, where r and z are the transverse and longitudinal coordinates, are given. Figure 1b shows the input pulsed beam, and the carrier frequency is multiplied by 0.1 to avoid too fast oscillations for observation. Figure 1c shows the optical field, when only DM (or a free-surface mirror) is considered, both pulse- and phase-fronts are deformed, and Fig. 1f gives the corresponding surface of DM. Figure 1d shows the optical field, when SLM is considered, which has a deformed pulse-front and an unchanged (plane) phase-front, and Fig. 1g gives the corresponding phase-front correction of SLM. Figure 1e shows the optical field after 5-m free propagation, and some diffraction distortions can be found, showing the necessity of the image relay telescope. In Fig. 1c–e, g, a small range is enlarged for observation. The continuous surface of DM won’t change the smooth pulse- and phase-fronts in Fig. 1c, while the segmented phase-front-correction of SLM (limited by the SLM pixel size shown in Fig. 1g) generates fine structure modulations in Fig. 1d. The pixel−pixel gap of SLM introduces net-like spatial amplitude modulation, and the pixel size of SLM keeps a very small phase-front tilt within each segment spatial range. In real cases, these two high spatial-frequency modulations can be reduced by suitable propagation diffraction in Fig. 1e. All in all, SLM introduces optimized (−π, π) phase-corrections across the beam aperture (like a Fresnel lens) and then collimates propagation directions (or wave vectors) at different transverse positions. In this case, after the ideal thin axicon, a Gauss−Bessel optical wave-packet can be created in the superposition region. Due to the pulse-front deformation, the created optical wave-packet does not possess a constant superluminal group velocity governed by υb = c/cos α anymore39, and the detail is going to be introduced in the following section.

Variable-group velocity and acceleration

Figure 2 shows the simulated intensity distributions (illustrated by red−yellow distributions) in 2D xz/t and 3D xyz/t spatiotemporal domains. Because of the axisymmetric profiles about the propagation axis, here we only discuss the results in the 2D lateral plane x−z/t containing the propagation axis. The axicon spatially divides the input pulsed beam into two and changes their traveling directions (illustrated by green dash-line arrows) with (half) conical angles of α = ±0.5°. The plane phase-fronts (illustrated by white solid lines) of two pulsed beams are always perpendicular to the traveling directions. In the superposition region, a Gauss−Bessel spatiotemporal optical wave-packet is generated at the core position resulting from conical superposition. We keep the same definitions as that in our previous article72: in space, the propagation axis of the optical wave-packet (or Bessel beam) is defined as the z-axis and the geometrical center of the superposition region is defined as the spatial origin of (x = y = z = 0) (see Fig. 1a); in time, the moment when the intersection of two phase-fronts (the intersection of two white solid lines) arriving at z = 0 is defined as the temporal origin of t = 0.

Fig. 2: Propagation of variable-group velocity optical wave-packet.
figure2

a After the ideal thin axicon, in 2D lateral plane the divided two half beams have symmetrical propagation directions (green dash-line arrows) with an angle of 2α. When deformed pulse-front (red−yellow distributions) has an axisymmetric cosine-function-like distribution, longitudinal gap Δz between the intersection of phase-fronts (white solid lines) and optical wave-packet (core of red-yellow distributions) increases and decreases in the first- and second-half propagations, showing subluminal and superluminal group velocities, respectively. b Isosurface plots (10 and 80% of the maximum intensity) show dynamics of optical wave-packet in the entire pulsed beam at different propagating times of −100 ps, −50 ps and 0 in (a). c When deformed pulse-front has an opposite axisymmetric cosine-function-like distribution, longitudinal gap Δz between the intersection of phase-fronts and optical wave-packet decreases and increases in the first- and second-half propagations, showing superluminal and subluminal group velocities, respectively. The (half) conical angle generated by the axicon is α = 0.5°, and then the intersection of phase-fronts travels at a constant velocity of 1.00004c.

When the deformed pulse-front has a cosine-function-like axisymmetric distribution, Fig. 2a shows at the very beginning the generated optical wave-packet (the core of red−yellow distributions) has the same location with the intersection of the phase-fronts (the intersection of two white solid lines); however, during the propagation, the optical wave-packet will be temporally delayed along the z-axis. From left to right in Fig. 2a, the detailed distributions of the pulse-fronts (red−yellow distributions), the phase-fronts (white solid lines), and the optical wave-packet (the core of red−yellow distributions) at different propagating times of t = −150, −100, −50, 0, 50, 100 and 150 ps are illustrated. The intersection of the phase-fronts travels at a constant velocity of 1.00004c governed by υg = c/cos α, while the optical wave-packet has a variable-group velocity. In the first half propagation from t = −150 ps to t = 0, the longitudinal gap Δz between the intersection of the phase-fronts and the optical wave-packet increases from zero to the maximum with the propagating time t, while in the second-half propagation from t = 0 to t = 150 ps, it gradually decreases from the maximum to zero again. Figure 3a shows the variation of the longitudinal gap Δz with the propagating time t (or position z), which has a cosine-function-like distribution about the propagating time t (or position z). The blue curve in Fig. 3b shows the instantaneously variable subluminal group velocities in the first half propagation, reaching the minimum at around t = −100 ps, and the red curve illustrates the instantaneously variable superluminal group velocities in the second-half propagation, reaching the maximum at around t = 100 ps. Figure 3c shows the variation of the instantaneous acceleration during the entire propagation, and the optical wave-packet experiences decelerating, then accelerating and finally decelerating motions in three temporal periods of from the appearance time to around t = −100 ps, from around t = −100 ps to around t = 100 ps, and from around t = 100 ps to the disappearance time, respectively. Figure 2b illustrates three isosurface plots at 10% and 80% of the maximum intensity showing the dynamics at three different propagating times of t = −100 ps, −50 ps, and 0. It is clear that at different propagating times the relative temporal (or z-axis) locations of the optical wave-packet in the entire pulsed beam are different. At the moment of the perfect overlap (i.e. t = 0), a Bessel beam with a central core and a series of concentric rings appears; however, while comparing with the traditional Bessel beam, the central core and the concentric rings have different temporal (or z-axis) locations, which is dominated by the pulse-front deformation.

Fig. 3: Variation of location, group velocity and acceleration of optical wave-packet during propagation.
figure3

Corresponding to axisymmetric cosine-function-like pulse-front deformations ac without and df with temporally delayed beam centers, variations of a, d longitudinal gap Δz (between the intersection of phase-fronts and optical wave-packet), b, e instantaneous group velocity υb, and c, f instantaneous acceleration a of optical wave-packet during propagation. Group velocity υb and acceleration a is normalized by c and c2, respectively. t and z are propagating time and position centered at the geometrical center of conical superposition region.

Next, when the deformed pulse-front has an opposite cosine-function-like axisymmetric distribution (or with a π phase-shift), Fig. 2c shows the simulated distributions of the pulse-fronts, the phase-fronts, and the optical wave-packet at different propagating times of t = −150, −100, −50, 0, 50, 100 and 150 ps. At the very beginning, the optical wave-packet has the maximum temporal delay along the z-axis relative to the intersection of the phase-fronts, i.e., the maximum longitudinal gap Δz. In the first half propagation from t = −150 ps to t = 0, the longitudinal gap Δz decreases to zero with the propagating time t, and in the second-half propagation from t = 0 to t = 150 ps, it increases back to the maximum again. Figure 3d shows the variation of the longitudinal gap Δz with the propagating time t (or position z). The red curve in Fig. 3e shows the instantaneously variable superluminal group velocities in the first half propagation, reaching the maximum at around t = −100 ps, and the blue curve shows the instantaneously variable subluminal group velocities in the second-half propagation, reaching the minimum at around t = 100 ps. Figure 3f shows the variation of the instantaneous acceleration, and the optical wave-packet experiences accelerating, then decelerating and finally accelerating motions in three temporal periods of from the appearance time to around t = −100 ps, from around t = −100 ps to around t = 100 ps, and from around t = 100 ps to the disappearance time, respectively.

By comparing Figs. 2a with 2c or 3a–c with 3d–f, the motions of the optical wave-packet in two cases are opposite, which is determined by the two opposite pulse-front deformations. Figure 3a, d shows the variation value of the longitudinal gap Δz (between the intersection of the phase-fronts and the optical wave-packet) is dominated by that of the pulse-front deformation. Because the intersection of the phase-fronts has a constant velocity of c/cos α (for an ideal thin axicon), the instantaneous group velocity of the optical wave-packet can be calculated by the derivative operation of υb = c/cos α − d(Δz)/dt, and the instantaneous acceleration of the optical wave-packet can be obtained by a = dυb/dt. In this case, by controlling the value of the pulse-front deformation, the instantaneous longitudinal gap Δz, and accordingly the instantaneous group velocity and acceleration of the optical wave-packet, in theory, can be well controlled. Furthermore, by introducing some unusual shapes of the pulse-front deformations, optical wave-packets with unusual motion forms (e.g., periodically variable-group velocity and—acceleration here) can also be created.

Moreover, in Fig. 2a, c, the best image relay position by the parabola telescope is at z = 0 (or t = 0), and when the pulsed beam propagates at z = ±45 mm (or t = ±150 ps) the propagation-diffraction-induced slight distortions can be found. In this case, when reducing the conical angle α to increase the propagation distance, the propagation diffraction should be considered, and the details are going to be discussed in the “Discussion” section.

Controllability of variable-group velocity

The above result shows that the shape and the value of the pulse-front deformation dominates the motion form and the group velocity value of the optical wave-packet, respectively. In our previous article72 with the simplest form of pulse-front tilt (PFT), i.e., a linearly tilt pulse-front, the optical wave-packet has a constant group velocity governed by

$$\upsilon _{\mathrm{g}} = \frac{{\cos \beta }}{{\cos \left( {\alpha + \beta } \right)}}c,$$
(1)

where α is the (half) conical angle formed by the ideal thin axicon, and β is the tilt angle between pulse- and phase-fronts.

For a complex pulse-front deformation, for example the cosine-function-like profile here, Fig. 4a shows the instantaneous PFT can be obtained by calculating the tangent angle β of the tangent line at the intersection of two pulse-fronts. Figure 4b shows the dependence of the optical wave-packet group velocity υb on PFT for three different (half) conical angles α. The tunable (or variation) range of the group velocity υb increases with increasing PFT, and the capability can be further enhanced by choosing a larger (half) conical angle α. If PFT is enlarged, the difficulty of generating the required phase-correction by SLM will increase. Figure 4c shows when the pulse-front deformations have the same cosine-function-like shape but different peak-valley (PV) values, the required phase-corrections by SLM are quite different. When the PV value is enlarged, the instantaneous PFT changes drastically along the transverse axis, accordingly the variable range of the group velocity υb increases; however, a high spatial-frequency phase-correction is also required, challenging the SLM resolution. Figure 4d shows the number of the phase-correction periods (−π, π) within 1 mm increases linearly with increasing PFT. If one modulation period (−π, π) contains at least five pixels, the required SLM pixel size has a negative exponential function distribution with respect to PFT. For example, with reference to an available 4 μm pixel size, when the absolute value of PFT is larger than 280 fs mm−1, beam reduction by the image relay telescope becomes necessary. This is another reason why a parabola telescope with ten times beam reduction is used in Fig. 1a. And the third reason is to reduce the beam size to increase the instantaneous PFT across the beam aperture and, accordingly, increase the variation range of the group velocity υb.

Fig. 4: Controllability of instantaneous group velocity and required SLM.
figure4

a Pulse-front tilt (PFT) or tangent angle β at the intersection of two pulse-fronts during conical superposition. b Dependence of instantaneous group velocity υb on PFT for (half) conical angles of α = 0.5°, 5° and 10°, and group velocity υb is normalized by c. c Three different pulse-fronts of DM and required phase-corrections of SLM. d Dependence of modulation period number (within 1 mm) and required pixel size (five pixels within one modulation period) of SLM phase-correction on PFT. For a 4 μm SLM pixel size, when PFT is larger than 280 fs mm−1, beam reduction by telescope is required. DM deformable mirror and SLM spatial light modulator.

The variation range of the (propagating time/position dependent) group velocity υb is dominated by that of PFT across the deformed pulse-front. For the case of a cosine-function-like pulse-front deformation used in this article, the pulse-front is z = L/2·cos(r/D·2π), where L and D are the longitudinal PV value and the transverse period, respectively. The tangent angle can be obtained β = −L/D·π·sin(r/D·2π), and the extremum is βmax/min = ±L/D·π. Based on an available commercial DM with a 100 μm PV value and a 20 mm diameter74, i.e., L = 100 μm and D = 10 mm for an axisymmetric cosine-function-like pulse-front deformation, the extremum is βmax/min ≈ ±31.41 mrad (or PFT ≈ ±104.7 fs mm−1). When the ten times beam reduction by the parabola telescope is considered, the extremum is increased to βmax/min ≈ ±314.1 mrad (or PFT ≈ ±1047 fs mm−1). By the substitution of Eq. (1) with the calculated extremum, for different (half) conical angles of α = 0.5°, 5°, and 10°, the variation range of the group velocity υb is (0.997c, 1.003c), (0.976c, 1.033c), and (0.96c, 1.077c), respectively. We can find that the overall variation range of the group velocity is limited, and if required, which can be slightly increased by replacing DM with a free-surface mirror and/or increasing the magnification of the beam reduction telescope.

Discussion

The pulse-front deformation would shorten the propagation distance of a pulsed beam due to propagation diffraction, although the phase-front is corrected. When keeping all simulation parameters given in the “Methods” section and the setup shown in Fig. 1a unchanged, we remove the axicon and simulate the propagation of the pulsed beam around the image relay position. Figure 5a shows the optical fields at different positions of z = 0, 0.005ZR, 0.01ZR, and 0.015ZR (where z = 0 is the image relay position and ZR = 4 m is the Rayleigh length of the corresponding monochromatic Gaussian beam) and no serious diffraction distortion is found. When the Gaussian pulse bandwidth (FWHM) is increased from 10 to 20 nm, Fig. 5b shows after z = 0.005ZR the propagation diffraction seriously distorts the pulsed beam. Keeping the 10 nm bandwidth unchanged, when the PV value of the pulse-front deformation is enlarged from 300 to 600 fs, Fig. 5c shows that also after z = 0.005ZR the propagation diffraction seriously distorts the pulsed beam. In this case, for a broadband pulsed beam or a large-value pulse-front deformation, the propagation distance is limited by propagation diffraction. In this article, the length of the superposition region is around 115 mm (i.e., the beam waist 1 mm divided by the (half) conical angle 0.5°). If the pulse-front deformed pulsed beam is imaged into the center of the superposition region of z = 0, as shown in Fig. 5a, within the propagation range of (−0.015ZR, 0.015ZR) the spatiotemporal distribution has no serious distortion, which can cover the whole superposition range. However, if the pulse bandwidth or the pulse-front deformation is enhanced, the flying length of the optical wave-packet is reduced. If the (half) conical angle α is enlarged to increase the variation range of the group velocity υg (see Fig. 4b), the length of the superposition region is dramatically reduced, which relaxes the limitation induced by the propagation diffraction. We should also emphasize that in theory, the ideal Bessel beam can propagate over an infinite distance without any spread. However, in a real experiment, due to a finite beam aperture, the propagation invariant length is restricted. In this article, the pulse-front deformation is added onto the input pulsed beam, which enhances the propagation diffraction and accordingly shortens the propagation invariant length. In this case, the optical wave-packet slightly diverges during propagation, although both the quantitative analysis in this paragraph and the simulations in Figs. 2a, c and 5a show that the diffraction distortion within the conical superposition region is small.

Fig. 5: Propagation diffraction of pulse-front deformed pulsed beam.
figure5

After the parabola telescope (ten times beam reduction) and if without the axicon, optical fields from the image relay position of z = 0 to different propagation distances of z = 0.005ZR, 0.01ZR, and 0.015ZR, where ZR = 4 m is the Rayleigh length of corresponding monochromatic Gaussian beam. a Gaussian pulse bandwidth is 10 nm, and PV value of pulse-front deformation is 300 fs. b Gaussian pulse bandwidth is increased to 20 nm. c PV value of pulse-front deformation is increased to 600 fs. Modulations induced by SLM pixel-pixel gap and pixel size are considered. For observation, the carrier frequency is multiplied by 0.1 to avoid too fast oscillations. PV peak-valley and SLM spatial light modulator.

Using the spatiotemporal coupling to control the group velocity and acceleration of an optical wave-packet or a focused intensity peak recently is an interesting and valuable technology. The spatiotemporal spectrum method invented by Abouraddy et al.65 can change the group velocity of the optical wave-packet in a very large range by changing the tilt angle of the plane (kz, ω/c) with respect to the light-cone (kx, kz, ω/c) in spectral-space. Group velocities varying from −4c (in the backward direction) to 30c (in the forward direction) were measured, and in theory, arbitrary group velocities can be generated. The spatiotemporal dispersion method simultaneously demonstrated by Quéré et al. and Froula et al. can also adjust the group velocity of the focused intensity peak within a large range by changing the longitudinal chromatism and the temporal chirp69,70,71, and −0.09c to 39c flying focuses were measured in experiments. This work of the pulse-front deformed Bessel beam generation provides a third spatiotemporal coupling method to control the group velocity and acceleration72. Compared with the previous two methods, it provides an opportunity to precisely control the variations of both the group velocity and the acceleration of the optical wave-packet, although the tunable range of the group velocity is limited by the amount of the pulse-front deformation. Because the diversity of the pulse-front deformation makes the diversity of the group velocity (also the acceleration) possible, we can create some optical wave-packets with unusual motion forms, for example, the optical wave-packet with a nearly programmable group velocity (or acceleration) theoretically demonstrated in this article.

In conclusion, we have theoretically demonstrated an optical wave-packet having a nearly programmable group velocity by introducing a complex axisymmetric pulse-front deformation into the traditional Bessel beam generation. Different from the previous results of optical wave-packets displaying only a single motion form (superluminal or luminal or subluminal for the case of group velocity; and accelerating or uniform-motion or decelerating for the case of acceleration), the optical wave-packets here can propagate with nearly programmable motion forms during a single propagation path (e.g., superluminal followed by subluminal for the case of group velocity; and accelerating followed by decelerating for the case of acceleration). In this article, due to a periodically distributed pulse-front deformation along the transverse axis, the optical wave-packet propagates with superluminal and subluminal group velocities periodically along the longitudinal axis, and the corresponding instantaneous acceleration also varies between negative and positive values periodically. In this case, the propagating time-dependent motions can be well controlled by carefully optimizing the shape of the pulse-front deformation, creating optical wave-packets with unusual motion forms. As regards applications, we believe it can be used in some propagating velocity matched experiments, such as bio-imaging, particle-manipulation, particle acceleration, and radiation generation75,76,77, and the high spatiotemporal controllability could also offer new opportunities for fundamental studies in optics and physics.

Methods

Simulation model

The ideal thin axicon transfers a plane wave into a conical wave and generates the Bessel beam in the superposition region. Due to the axisymmetric distribution, the description is carried out in the 2D lateral plane containing the propagation axis for simplification, for example the x−z or y−z plane shown in Fig. 1a, and the divided half beams have individual traveling directions symmetrically bout the propagation axis. Both the input beam and the generated Bessel beam are described in the coordinate system of r−z, where r is the radial axis and z is the propagation axis. The divided half beam after the axicon is described in its own propagation (rotated) coordinate system of rαzα, where rα is the radial axis and zα is the propagation axis. The origins of two coordinate systems have the same location at the geometrical center of the superposition region. When the clockwise rotation of the (half) conical angle α induced by the axicon is defined as the positive, and two coordinate systems of r−z and rαzα satisfy the rotation relationship

$$\left[ {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {r_\alpha } \\ {z_\alpha } \end{array}} \right] = \left[ {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {\cos \alpha } & {\sin \alpha } \\ { - \sin \alpha } & {\cos \alpha } \end{array}} \right]\left[ {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} r \\ z \end{array}} \right].$$
(2)

Under the paraxial approximation and the plane wave approximation, at the center of the superposition region (or the coordinate origin), the spectral optical field of a divided half beam is described in its rotated coordinate system of rαzα and given by

$$E\left( {r_\alpha ,z_\alpha = 0,\omega } \right) = A\left( {r_\alpha } \right)A\left( \omega \right)A_{{\mathrm{SLM}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right)\exp i\left[ {\phi _{{\mathrm{{DM}}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right) + \phi _{{\mathrm{{SLM}}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right)} \right],$$
(3)

where A(rα) and A(ω) are the spatial and spectral profiles of the amplitude, respectively, ASLM(rα) is the spatial amplitude modulation by SLM, ϕDM(rα) and ϕSLM(rα) are the phase-modulations by DM and SLM, respectively. In this article, because of the image relay by the parabola telescope, we assume the shaped pulsed beam appears at the image relay position of zα = 0. The spatial amplitude modulation ASLM(rα) by SLM is due to the net-like pixel−pixel gaps, which is described as

$$A_{{\mathrm{{SLM}}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right) = \mathop {\sum}\limits_N {{\mathrm{{rect}}}\left( {\frac{{r_\alpha - Np}}{{p - d}}} \right)} ,$$
(4)

where N is integer, rect() is the rectangular-function, d is the SLM pixel−pixel gap, p is the overall size of the SLM pixel (including the gap d), and then pd is the effective size of the SLM pixel. Because DM has a continuous surface, it has no spatial amplitude modulation and only introduces a continuous phase modulation across the beam aperture. In this article, two axisymmetric cosine-function-like phase-modulations ϕDM(rα) by DM are used, respectively, and given by

$$\phi _{{\mathrm{{DM}}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right) = k\frac{L}{2}\left[ { \mp \cos \left( {\frac{{r_\alpha }}{D}2\pi } \right) + 1} \right],$$
(5)

where k is the wavenumber, and L and D are the longitudinal PV value and the transverse period of the modulation, respectively. SLM in theory needs to introduce a conjugated [0, 2π) phase-correction for restoring a plane phase-front. However, the influence of the spatial resolution limited by the pixel size should be considered, and then the phase-front correction ϕSLM(rα) by SLM is described as

$$\phi _{{\mathrm{{SLM}}}}\left( {r_\alpha } \right) = \pi - \bmod \left( {\phi _{{\mathrm{{DM}}}}\left( {\left\lfloor {\frac{{r_\alpha }}{p}} \right\rfloor p} \right)\frac{{k_0}}{k},2\pi } \right),$$
(6)

where is the floor-function that gives as output the greatest integer less than or equal to the input, mod() is the modulo-function to return the positive remainder of a division, and k0 is the wavenumber for the center wavelength (corresponding to SLM). The floor-function describes the spatially discrete phase induced by the SLM pixel size p, the modulo-function describes the [0, 2π) phase-variation by SLM, and finally the conjugated phase-correction is produced and moved to the region of (−π, π].

The angular spectrum method is used for modeling the propagation diffraction, and the optical field after zα propagation is given by

$$E\left( {r_\alpha ,z_\alpha ,\omega } \right) = {\int} {A\left( {f_{r_\alpha },z_\alpha = 0,\omega } \right)\exp \left( {ikz_\alpha \sqrt {1 - \lambda ^2f_{r_\alpha }^2} } \right)\exp \left( {i2\pi f_{r_\alpha }r_\alpha } \right){\mathrm{d}}f_{r_\alpha }},$$
(7)

where, at the initial position of zα = 0, the plane-wave angular spectrum and the corresponding optical field satisfy the Fourier-transform relationship

$$A\left( {f_{r_\alpha },z_\alpha = 0,\omega } \right) = {\int} {E\left( {r_\alpha ,z_\alpha = 0,\omega } \right)\exp \left( { - i2\pi f_{r_\alpha }r_\alpha } \right){\mathrm{d}}r_\alpha } .$$
(8)

After propagation, by using Eq. (2), the spectral optical fields of two divided half beams are described in the non-rotated coordinate system of r−z, and the coherent superposition (or interference) is given by

$$E_{{\mathrm{{OWP}}}}\left( {r,z,\omega } \right) = E\left( {r,z,\omega ,\alpha } \right) + E\left( {r,z,\omega , - \alpha } \right).$$
(9)

The temporal optical field is obtained by the Fourier-transform in spectrum and given by

$$E_{{\mathrm{{OWP}}}}\left( {r,z,t} \right) = \frac{1}{{2\pi }}{\int} {E_{{\mathrm{{OWP}}}}\left( {r,z,\omega } \right)\exp \left( {i\omega t} \right){\mathrm{{d}}}\omega } .$$
(10)

Finally, because the pulsed beam is axisymmetric about the propagation axis (z-axis), the 3D distribution is achieved by rotating the 2D result about the z-axis with r2 = x2 + y2.

Simulation parameters

Throughout this article, the parameters of the setup shown in Fig. 1a are as follows: the input Gaussian pulse has a 800 nm center wavelength and a 10 nm (FWHM) bandwidth; the beam diameter before and after the parabola telescope is 20 and 2 mm, respectively; DM introduces a cosine-function-like axisymmetric deformation with a 10 mm period and a 90 μm (300 fs) PV value; SLM has [−π, π) (corresponding to the center wavelength) phase-correction capability and a 40 μm pixel size including a 5 μm pixel−pixel gap; the parabola telescope introduces perfect ten times beam reduction; and the ideal thin axicon introduces a α = ±0.5° (half) conical angle. DM and SLM are positioned much closed to each other, and the beam divergence after DM is neglected. The parabola telescope images the pulse-front deformed pulsed beam into the geometrical center of the superposition region formed by the ideal thin axicon, where each divided half pulsed beam is assumed to have a six-order super-Gaussian beam profile in the lateral plane. All simulations are accomplished in the time domain with 1.2 ps window size and 1 fs accuracy (and the corresponding spectrum domain satisfies the Fourier relationship) and in the space domain with 100 mm window size and 2 μm accuracy (and the corresponding angular spectrum domain satisfies the Fourier relationship).

Group velocity and acceleration calculation

Under the approximation with a distortion-free pulse-front in a finite propagation length, the equations for the instantaneous group velocity and acceleration of the optical wave-packet are derived. Figure 6 shows, from the propagating time t0 to t, the propagation distance along the zα-axis in the rotated coordinate system of rαzα is given by

$$L_1\left( t \right) = \left( {t - t_0} \right)c,$$
(11)

where t0 is the initial time when the phase-fronts arrive at the back-surface of the ideal thin axicon, and the propagation distance of the intersection of the phase-fronts (or the intersection of the phase-front and the z-axis) along the z-axis in the non-rotated coordinate system of z−r is given by

$$L_2\left( t \right) = \frac{{L_1\left( t \right)}}{{\cos \alpha }}.$$
(12)
Fig. 6: Propagation of phase- and pulse-fronts.
figure6

Phase- and pulse-fronts propagate along zα-axis in the rotated coordinate system of rα−zα at the light speed in vacuum of c, and from propagating time t0 to t, propagation distance is L1. Optical wave-packet propagates along z-axis in the coordinate system of r−z. Due to deviation between pulse- and phase-fronts, from propagating time t0 to t, propagation distance of the intersection of phase-fronts (or the intersection of phase-front and z-axis) L2 and that of optical wave-packet (or the intersection of pulse-front and z-axis) L3 are different, showing a variable-group velocity. t0 is the initial propagating time when phase-fronts arrive at the back-surface of the axicon, and t is an arbitrary propagating time.

The propagation distance of the optical wave-packet along the z-axis in the coordinate system of r−z is given by

$$L_3\left( t \right) = L_2\left( t \right) + \left[ {\frac{{t_0c}}{{\cos \alpha }} - f_{t_0}\left( 0 \right)} \right] - {\Delta} z\left( t \right),$$
(13)

where Δz(t) is the instantaneous longitudinal gap between the intersection of the phase-fronts and the optical wave-packet, satisfying

$${\Delta} z\left( t \right) = L_1\left( t \right)\tan \alpha \sin \alpha + \left( {\frac{{t_0c}}{{\cos \alpha }} - f_{t_0}\left[ {L_1\left( t \right)\sin \alpha } \right]} \right).$$
(14)

The function z = ft0(r) is the distribution of the deformed pulse-front in the coordinate system of r−z at the initial propagating time t0. In this article, the initial pulse-front distribution in the rotated coordinate system of rαzα can be obtained by dividing Eq. (5) with the wavenumber k, and then, using Eq. (2), which in the non-rotated coordinate system of r−z can be obtained conveniently.

The instantaneous group velocity of the optical wave-packet is given by

$$\upsilon _g\left( t \right) = \frac{{{\mathrm{{d}}}\left[ {L_3\left( t \right)} \right]}}{{{\mathrm{{d}}}t}},$$
(15)

and by the substitution of Eq. (15) with Eq. (13), the instantaneous group velocity can also be described as

$$\upsilon _g\left( t \right) = \frac{c}{{\cos \alpha }} - \frac{{{\mathrm{{d}}}\left[ {{\Delta} z\left( t \right)} \right]}}{{{\mathrm{{d}}}t}}.$$
(16)

Equation (16) shows the instantaneous group velocity is relevant to two terms: the first term is the constant velocity of the intersection of the phase-fronts; the second term is the variable velocity related to the change of the longitudinal gap Δz (between the intersection of the phase-fronts and the optical wave-packet), which is eventually dominated by the pulse-front deformation. This indicates why the pulse-front deformation can change the group velocity of the optical wave-packet and conforms to the phenomenon shown in Fig. 2.

By the substitution of Eq. (16) with Eq. (14), the instantaneous group velocity can be re-described as

$$\upsilon _{\mathrm{{g}}}\left( t \right) = \frac{c}{{\cos \alpha }} - c\tan \alpha \sin \alpha + f_{t_0}^\prime \left[ {\left( {t - t_0} \right)c\sin \alpha } \right]c\sin \alpha ,$$
(17)

where ft0(r) is the first-order derivative of the pulse-front function ft0(r). The instantaneous acceleration of the optical wave-packet satisfies

$$a\left( t \right) = \frac{{{\mathrm{{d}}}\left[ {\upsilon _g\left( t \right)} \right]}}{{{\mathrm{{d}}}t}},$$
(18)

and by the substitution of Eq. (18) with Eq. (17), it is described as

$$a\left( t \right) = f_{t_0}^{\prime\prime} \left[ {\left( {t - t_0} \right)c\sin \alpha } \right]c^2\sin ^2\alpha ,$$
(19)

where ft0″(r) is the second-order derivative of the pulse-front function ft0(r). Equations (17) and (19) show, for a certain pulse-front deformation of z = ft0(r), the instantaneous group velocity and acceleration of the optical wave-packet produced by this method can be directly calculated and, more importantly, well designed.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

References

  1. 1.

    Hernandez-Figueroa, H. E., Zamboni-Rached, M. & Recami, E. Localized Waves (Wiley, New York, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Hernandez-Figueroa, H. E., Recami, E. & Zamboni-Rached, M. Non-Diffracting Waves (Wiley, New York, 2013).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Salo, J., Fagerholm, J., Friberg, A. T. & Salomaa, M. M. Unified description of nondiffracting X and Y waves. Phys. Rev. E 62, 4261 (2000).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Saari, P. & Reivelt, K. Generation and classification of localized waves by Lorentz transformations in Fourier space. Phys. Rev. E 69, 036612 (2004).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Bandres, M. A., Gutiérrez-Vega, J. C. & Chávez-Cerda, S. Parabolic nondiffracting optical wave fields. Opt. Lett. 29, 44–46 (2004).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kiselev, A. P. Localized light waves: paraxial and exact solutions of the wave equation (A review). Opt. Spectrosc. 102, 603–622 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Chiao, R. Y., Garmire, E. & Townes, C. H. Self-trapping of optical beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 13, 479–482 (1964).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Kelley, P. L. Self-focusing of optical beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 15, 1005–1008 (1965).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Stegeman, G. I. & Segev, M. Optical spatial solitons and their interactions: universality and diversity. Science 286, 1518–1523 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Conti, C. et al. Nonlinear electromagnetic X waves. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 170406 (2003).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Kominis, Y. et al. Continuous-wave-controlled nonlinear x-wave generation. Opt. Lett. 30, 2924–2926 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Malomed, B. A. Multidimensional solitons: well-established results and novel findings. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. 225, 2507–2532 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Mihalache, D. Multidimensional localized structures in optical and matter-wave media: a topical survey of recent literature. Rom. Rep. Phys. 69, 403 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kartashov, Y. V., Astrakharchik, G. E., Malomed, B. A. & Torner, L. Frontiers in multidimensional self-trapping of nonlinear fields and matter. Nat. Rev. Phys. 1, 185 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Smalyukh, I. I. Review: Knots and other new topological effects in liquid crystals and colloids. Rep. Prog. Phys. 83, 106601 (2020).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Besieris, I., Abdel-Rahman, M., Shaarawi, A. & Chatzipetros, A. Two fundamental representations of localized pulse solutions to the scalar wave equation. Prog. Electro. Res. 19, 1–48 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Grunwald, R. et al. Generation and characterization of spatially and temporally localized few-cycle optical wave packets. Phys. Rev. A 67, 063820 (2003).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Chong, A., Renninger, W. H., Christodoulides, D. N. & Wise, F. W. Airy–Bessel wave packets as versatile linear light bullets. Nat. Photon. 4, 103–106 (2010).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Christodoulides, D. N. & Coskun, T. H. Diffraction-free planar beams in unbiased photorefractive media. Opt. Lett. 21, 1460–1462 (1996).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Liu, X., Qian, L. J. & Wise, F. W. Generation of optical spatiotemporal solitons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 4631–4634 (1999).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Grelu, P. & Akhmediev, N. Dissipative solitons for mode-locked lasers. Nat. Photon. 6, 84–92 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Gustave, F. et al. Observation of mode-locked spatial laser solitons. Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 044102 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Boyd, R. W. & Gauthier, D. J. Controlling the velocity of light pulses. Science 326, 1074–1077 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Hau, L. V., Harris, S. E., Dutton, Z. & Behroozi, C. Light speed reduction to 17 m per second in an ultracold atomic gas. Nature 397, 594–598 (1999).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kash, M. M. et al. Ultraslow group velocity and enhanced nonlinear optical effects in a coherently driven hot atomic gas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 5229–5232 (1999).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Wang, L. J., Kuzmich, A. & Dogariu, A. Gain-assisted superluminal light propagation. Nature 406, 277–279 (2000).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Dolling, G., Enkrich, C., Wegener, M., Soukoulis, C. M. & Linden, S. Simultaneous negative phase and group velocity of light in a metamaterial. Science 312, 892–894 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Gehring, G. M., Schweinsberg, A., Barsi, C., Kostinski, N. & Boyd, R. W. Observation of backward pulse propagation through a medium with a negative group velocity. Science 312, 895–897 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Baba, T. Slow light in photonic crystals. Nat. Photon. 2, 465–473 (2008).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Tsakmakidis, K. L., Hess, O., Boyd, R. W. & Zhang, X. Ultraslow waves on the nanoscale. Science 358, eaan5196 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    McLeod, J. H. The axicon: a new type of optical element. J. Opt. Soc. Am. 44, 592–597 (1954).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Durnin, J., Miceli, J. J. & Eberly, J. H. Diffraction-free beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58, 1499–1501 (1987).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Mcgloin, D. & Dholakia, K. Bessel beams: diffraction in a new light. Contemp. Phys. 46, 15–28 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    McLeod, E., Hopkins, A. B. & Arnold, C. B. Multiscale Bessel beams generated by a tunable acoustic gradient index of refraction lens. Opt. Lett. 31, 3155–3157 (2006).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Kim, J. K. et al. Compact all-fiber Bessel beam generator based on hollow optical fiber combined with a hybrid polymer fiber lens. Opt. Lett. 34, 2973–2975 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Hwang, C. Y., Kim, K. Y. & Lee, B. Bessel-like beam generation by superposing multiple Airy beams. Opt. Express 19, 7356–7364 (2011).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Duocastella, M. & Arnold, C. B. Bessel and annular beams for materials processing. Laser Photonics Rev. 6, 607–621 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Chu, X. et al. Generating a Bessel-Gaussian beam for the application in optical engineering. Sci. Rep. 5, 18665 (2015).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Alexeev, I., Kim, K. Y. & Milchberg, H. M. Measurement of the Superluminal group velocity of an ultrashort Bessel beam pulse. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 073901 (2002).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Jarutis, V., Matijošius, A., Trapani, P. D. & Piskarskas, A. Spiraling zero-order Bessel beam. Opt. Lett. 34, 2129–2131 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Morris, J. E. et al. Realization of curved Bessel beams: propagation around obstructions. J. Opt. 12, 124002 (2010).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Chremmos, I. D. et al. Bessel-like optical beams with arbitrary trajectories. Opt. Lett. 37, 5003–5005 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Zhao, J. et al. Observation of self-accelerating Bessel-like optical beams along arbitrary trajectories. Opt. Lett. 38, 498–450 (2013).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Valtna-Lukner, H. et al. Direct spatiotemporal measurements of accelerating ultrashort Bessel-type light bullets. Opt. Express 17, 14948–14955 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Piksarv, P. et al. Temporal focusing of ultrashort pulsed Bessel beams into Airy–Bessel light bullets. Opt. Express 20, 17220–17229 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Lu, J. Y. & Greenleaf, J. F. Nondiffracting X waves-exact solutions to free-space scalar wave equation and their finite aperture realizations. IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control 39, 19–31 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Lu, J. Y., Zou, H. & Greenleaf, J. F. A new approach to obtain limited diffraction beams. IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control 42, 850–853 (1995).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Saari, P. & Reivelt, K. Evidence of X-shaped propagation-invariant localized light waves. Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 4135–4138 (1997).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Sõnajalg, H., Rätsep, M. & Saari, P. Demonstration of the Bessel-X pulse propagating with strong lateral and longitudinal localization in a dispersive medium. Opt. Lett. 22, 310–312 (1997).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Bowlan, P. et al. Measuring the spatiotemporal field of ultrashort Bessel-X pulses. Opt. Lett. 34, 2276–2278 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Trapani, P. D. et al. Spontaneously generated X-shaped light bullets. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 093904 (2003).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Siviloglou, G. A. & Christodoulides, D. N. Accelerating finite energy Airy beams. Opt. Lett. 32, 979–981 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Siviloglou, G. A., Broky, J., Dogariu, A. & Christodoulides, D. N. Observation of accelerating Airy beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 213901 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Siviloglou, G. A., Broky, J., Dogariu, A. & Christodoulides, D. N. Ballistic dynamics of Airy beams. Opt. Lett. 33, 207–209 (2008).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Kaminer, I., Segev, M. & Christodoulides, D. N. Self-accelerating self-trapped optical beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 213903 (2011).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Dolev, I., Kaminer, I., Shapira, A., Segev, M. & Arie, A. Experimental observation of self-accelerating beams in quadratic nonlinear media. Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 113903 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Kaminer, I., Bekenstein, R., Nemirovsky, J. & Segev, M. Nondiffracting accelerating wave packets of Maxwell’s equations. Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 163901 (2012).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Schley, R. et al. Loss-proof self-accelerating beams and their use in non-paraxial manipulation of particles’ trajectories. Nat. Commun. 5, 5189 (2014).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59.

    Baumgartl, J., Mazilu, M. & Dholakia, K. Optically mediated particle clearing using Airy wavepackets. Nat. Photon. 2, 675–678 (2008).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Polynkin, P., Kolesik, M., Moloney, J. V., Siviloglou, G. A. & Christodoulides, D. N. Curved plasma channel generation using ultra-Intense Airy beams. Science 324, 229–232 (2009).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Valtna, H., Reivelt, K. & Saari, P. Methods for generating wideband localized waves of superluminal group velocity. Opt. Comm. 278, 1–7 (2007).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62.

    Kondakci, H. E. & Abouraddy, A. F. Diffraction-free space–time light sheets. Nat. Photon. 11, 733–740 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Kondakci, H. E. & Abouraddy, A. F. Airy wave packets accelerating in space-time. Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 163901 (2018).

    ADS  MathSciNet  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Bhaduri, B., Yessenov, M. & Abouraddy, A. F. Space–time wave packets that travel in optical materials at the speed of light in vacuum. Optica 6, 139–146 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Kondakci, H. E. & Abouraddy, A. F. Optical space-time wave packets having arbitrary group velocities in free space. Nat. Commun. 10, 929 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Yessenov, M. & Abouraddy, A. F. Changing the speed of optical coherence in free space. Opt. Lett. 44, 5125–5128 (2019).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 67.

    Yessenov, M & Abouraddy, A. F. Accelerating and decelerating space-time optical wave packets in free space. Phys. Rev. Lett. accepted 30 October (2020).

  68. 68.

    Bhaduri, B., Yessenov, M. & Abouraddy, A. F. Anomalous refraction of optical spacetime wave packets. Nat. Photon. 14, 416–421 (2020).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Sainte-Marie, A., Gobert, O. & Quéré, F. Controlling the velocity of ultrashort light pulses in vacuum through spatio-temporal couplings. Optica 4, 1298–1304 (2017).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 70.

    Jolly, S. W., Gobert, O., Jeandet, A. & Quéré, F. Controlling the velocity of a femtosecond laser pulse using refractive lenses. Opt. Express 28, 4888–4897 (2020).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 71.

    Froula, D. H. et al. Spatiotemporal control of laser intensity. Nat. Photon. 12, 262–265 (2018).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Li, Z. & Kawanaka, J. Velocity and acceleration freely tunable straight-line propagation light bullet. Sci. Rep. 10, 11481 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. 73.

    Sun, B., Salter, P. S. & Booth, M. J. Pulse front adaptive optics: a new method for control of ultrashort laser pulses. Opt. Express 23, 19348–19357 (2015).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. 74.

    Imagine Optic. Deformable mirror. https://www.imagine-optic.com/ (2020).

  75. 75.

    Tajima, T. & Dawson, J. M. Laser electron accelerator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 43, 267–270 (1979).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. 76.

    Macchi, A., Cattani, F., Liseykina, T. V. & Cornolt, F. Laser acceleration of ion bunches at the front surface of overdense plasmas. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 165003 (2005).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. 77.

    Caizergues, C., Smartsev, S., Malka, V. & Thaury, C. Phase-locked laser-wakefield electron acceleration. Nat. Photon. 14, 475–479 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the JST-Mirai Program, Japan, under contract JPMJMI17A1.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Z.L. developed the concept, carried out the simulation, and derived the equations. Z.L. and J.K. prepared the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zhaoyang Li.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, Z., Kawanaka, J. Optical wave-packet with nearly-programmable group velocities. Commun Phys 3, 211 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42005-020-00481-4

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing