Splitting Light Beams with Light Itself

Allan W. Snyder, Optical Sciences Centre, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National Univ., Canberra, Australia; Alexander V. Buryak, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia.

Self-guided beams (or spatial solitons) are natural building blocks for a future all-optical technology where light guides and manipulates light itself in a bulk medium.1-3 Theory shows that spatial solitons can steer each other or even be made to spiral about each other. By colliding such solitons we can create fused beams or control the birth of new beams. A number of these predictions have now been observed in the laboratory including induced optical fibers, spiraling, fusion, and soliton birth. Recently a new phenomenon has been added to this arsenal: splitting light beams with light itself. A "bright" beam can be split into two bright beams upon illumination by a "dim" beam.

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