In almost all situations, even in a vacuum, light cannot travel endlessly without dissipating. Pulses of light known as solitons that propagate along fibres for long distances without changing their shape or losing focus have found applications in data transmission, but even these gradually dissipate unless the medium they travel through has ultra-low absorbance. Nikolay Rosanov of the National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (ITMO), St. Petersburg, Russia and his team have been working on a solution to this problem—laser solitons—since the 1980s; a colloquium paper summarising their recent work in this area has now been published in The European Physical Journal D.
Rosanov and his group began their work with computer simulations, suggesting that it was theoretically possible to produce a stable soliton in a wide-aperture laser if it was stabilised by external radiation. This prediction was soon confirmed experimentally, and the group has studied these so-called dissipative solitons ever since.To read more, click here.