Another Twist of Light: Soliton Collisions in Bulk Media

Self-guided optical beams (or spatial solitons) have attracted substantial research interest because they hold a promise of all-optical switching and controlling light by light. Typically interactions of spatial solitons have been analyzed for 2-D geometries (soliton interactions in nonlinear slab waveguides). Only recently, experimental discoveries of stable solitons in bulk nonlinear media initiated the experimental study of fully 3-D collisions between solitary beams, and some exciting results have been achieved. However, a major problem had been hampering further progress in the development of futuristic 3-D soliton switches: namely that a reliable theory of such 3-D soliton interactions had not been developed, making physical intuition and numerics the only tools for predicting experimental outcomes.

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