Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Ultrashort pulse


We demonstrate experimentally ultrafast all-optical switching in subwavelength nonlinear dielectric nanostructures exhibiting localized magnetic Mie resonances. We employ amorphous silicon nanodisks to achieve strong self-modulation of femtosecond pulses with a depth of 60\% at picojoule-per-disk pump energies. In the pump-probe measurements, we reveal that switching in the nanodisks can be governed by pulse-limited 65-fs-long two-photon absorption being enhanced by a factor of 80 with respect to the unstructured silicon film. We also show that undesirable free-carrier effects can be suppressed by a proper spectral positioning of the magnetic resonance, making such a structure the fastest all-optical switch operating at the nanoscale.

Concepts: Photon, Fundamental physics concepts, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Magnetic moment, Capacitor, Resonance, Amorphous silicon, Ultrashort pulse


An important challenge in the field of three-dimensional ultrafast laser processing is to achieve permanent modifications in the bulk of silicon and narrow-gap materials. Recent attempts by increasing the energy of infrared ultrashort pulses have simply failed. Here, we establish that it is because focusing with a maximum numerical aperture of about 1.5 with conventional schemes does not allow overcoming strong nonlinear and plasma effects in the pre-focal region. We circumvent this limitation by exploiting solid-immersion focusing, in analogy to techniques applied in advanced microscopy and lithography. By creating the conditions for an interaction with an extreme numerical aperture near 3 in a perfect spherical sample, repeatable femtosecond optical breakdown and controllable refractive index modifications are achieved inside silicon. This opens the door to the direct writing of three-dimensional monolithic devices for silicon photonics. It also provides perspectives for new strong-field physics and warm-dense-matter plasma experiments.Ultrafast laser processing is a versatile three-dimensional photonic structuring method but it has been limited to wide band gap materials like glasses. Here, Chanal et al. demonstrate direct refractive-index modification in the bulk of silicon by extreme localization of the energy deposition.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Laser, Nonlinear optics, Photonics, Silicon photonics, Ultrashort pulse, Optical autocorrelation


Carbon nanomaterials exhibit novel characteristics including enhanced thermal, electrical, mechanical, and biological properties. Nanodiamonds; first discovered in meteorites are found to be biocompatible, non-toxic and have distinct optical properties. Here we show that nanodiamonds with the size of <5 nm are formed directly from ethanol via 1025 nm femtosecond laser irradiation. The absorption of laser energy by ethanol increased non-linearly above 100 μJ accompanied by a white light continuum arises from fs laser filamentation. At laser energy higher than 300 μJ, emission spectra of C, O and H in the plasma were detected, indicating the dissociation of C2H5OH. Nucleation of the carbon species in the confined plasma within the laser filaments leads to the formation of nanodiamonds. The energy dependence and the roles of the nonlinear phenomenon to the formation of homogeneous nanodiamonds are discussed. This work brings new possibility for bottom-up nanomaterials synthesis based on nano and ultrafast laser physics.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Physics, Light, Sun, Laser, Nanomaterials, Ultrashort pulse


An open challenge in the important field of femtosecond laser material processing is the controlled internal structuring of dielectric materials. Although the availability of high energy high repetition rate femtosecond lasers has led to many advances in this field, writing structures within transparent dielectrics at intensities exceeding 10(13) W/cm(2) has remained difficult as it is associated with significant nonlinear spatial distortion. This letter reports the existence of a new propagation regime for femtosecond pulses at high power that overcomes this challenge, associated with the generation of a hollow uniform and intense light tube that remains propagation invariant even at intensities associated with dense plasma formation. This regime is seeded from higher order nondiffracting Bessel beams, which carry an optical vortex charge. Numerical simulations are quantitatively confirmed by experiments where a novel experimental approach allows direct imaging of the 3D fluence distribution within transparent solids. We also analyze the transitions to other propagation regimes in near and far fields. We demonstrate how the generation of plasma in this tubular geometry can lead to applications in ultrafast laser material processing in terms of single shot index writing, and discuss how it opens important perspectives for material compression and filamentation guiding in atmosphere.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Optical fiber, Solid, Plasma, Dielectric, Lasers, Ultrashort pulse


We report the broadband nonlinear optical (NLO) properties of CsPbBr3 perovskite films achieved from colloidal nanocrystals prepared following a room temperature and open atmosphere anti-solvent precipitation method. The NLO studies were performed on the films of nanocubes (NCs) and nanorods (NRs) using the Z-scan technique with 1 kHz femtosecond pulses at 600, 700, and 800 nm. Large two-photon absorption cross sections (∼105  GM) were retrieved by fitting the open-aperture Z-scan data. Strong third-order NLO susceptibility (∼10-10  esu) was observed in these films. At higher peak intensities a switching of sign (in both NCs and NRs) in the real and imaginary parts of the NLO susceptibility was observed from the studies on these CsPbBr3 nanocrystals. The obtained NLO coefficients clearly suggest that these materials are promising for ultrafast photonic applications.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Precipitation, Part, Nonlinear optics, The Real, Two-photon absorption, Ultrashort pulse


Nanoacoustic strains are generated in Silicon by chirped femtosecond laser pulses using thin Titanium films as transducers. We investigate the effect that the generating laser pulse chirp has on the amplitude of the induced strains, manifested as Brillouin oscillations observed in degenerate femtosecond pump-probe transient reflectivity measurements. The strain amplitude is larger when negatively chirped pulses are used, which is attributed to the more efficient conversion of laser pulse light into acoustic strain in the Titanium transducer. Our present studies clearly show that the dependence of the Brillouin amplitude and the lattice strain is a non-monotonous function of the laser chirp parameter. An optimum negative laser pulse chirp is found for which the strain amplitude is maximized. A detailed thermomechanical model satisfactorily supports the experimental findings. In such a way, it is possible to suppress or enhance the induced nanoacoustic strain amplitude, thus all-optically controlling it by at least a factor of two.

Concepts: Optics, Effect, Laser, Pulse, Nonlinear optics, Lasers, Chirp, Ultrashort pulse


Ultrafast demagnetization of magnetic layers pumped by a femtosecond laser pulse is accompanied by a nonthermal spin-polarized current of hot electrons. These spin currents are studied here theoretically in a spin valve with noncollinear magnetizations. To this end, we introduce an extended model of superdiffusive spin transport that enables to treat noncollinear magnetic configurations, and apply it to the perpendicular spin valve geometry. We show how spin-transfer torques arise due to this mechanism and calculate their action on the magnetization present, as well as how the latter depends on the thicknesses of the layers and other transport parameters. We demonstrate that there exists a certain optimum thickness of the out-of-plane magnetized spin-current polarizer such that the torque acting on the second magnetic layer is maximal. Moreover, we study the magnetization dynamics excited by the superdiffusive spin-transfer torque due to the flow of hot electrons employing the Landau-Lifshitz-Gilbert equation. Thereby we show that a femtosecond laser pulse applied to one magnetic layer can excite small-angle precessions of the magnetization in the second magnetic layer. We compare our calculations with recent experimental results.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Spin, Electric current, Magnetism, Standard Model, OSI model, Ultrashort pulse


Direct laser writing (DLW) via two-photon absorption (TPA) has attracted much attention as a new microfabrication technique because it can be applied to fabricate complex, three-dimensional (3D) microstructures. In this study, 3D microstructures and micro-optical devices of micro-lens array on the micrometer scale are fabricated using the negative photoresist SU-8 through TPA with a femtosecond laser pulse under a microscope. The effects of the irradiation conditions on linewidths, such as laser power, writing speed, and writing cycles (a number of times a line is overwritten), are investigated before the fabrication of the 3D microstructures. Various microstructures such as woodpiles, hemisphere and microstructures, 3D micro-lens and micro-lens array for micro-optical devices are fabricated. The shape of the micro-lens is evaluated using the shape analysis mode of a laser microscope to calculate the working distance of the fabricated micro-lenses. The calculated working distance corresponds well to the experimentally measured value. The focusing performance of the fabricated micro-lens is confirmed by the TPA fluorescence of an isopropyl thioxanthone (ITX) ethanol solution excited by a Ti:sapphire femtosecond laser at 800 nm. Micro-lens array (assembled 9 micro-lenses) are fabricated. Nine independent woodpile structures are simultaneously manufactured by DLW via TPA to confirm the multi-focusing ability using the fabricated micro-lens array.

Concepts: Laser, Materials science, Confirmation, Micrometer, Ultrashort pulse, Photoresist, SU-8 photoresist, TPA Tour


We report on an optical frequency comb with 14 nm (∼1.8  THz) spectral bandwidth at a -3  dB level that is generated using a passively mode-locked quantum-well laser in photonic integrated circuits fabricated through an InP generic photonic integration technology platform. This 21.5-GHz colliding-pulse mode-locked laser cavity is defined by on-chip reflectors incorporating intracavity phase modulators followed by an extracavity semiconductor optical amplifier as a booster amplifier. A 1.8-THz-wide optical comb spectrum is presented with an ultrafast pulse that is 0.35 ps wide. The radio frequency beat note has a 3-dB linewidth of 450 kHz and 35-dB SNR.

Concepts: Optics, Laser, Frequency, Sound, Nonlinear optics, Lasers, Ultrashort pulse, Frequency comb


Current-induced magnetization manipulation is a key issue for spintronic applications. This manipulation must be fast, deterministic, and nondestructive in order to function in device applications. Therefore, single- electronic-pulse-driven deterministic switching of the magnetization on the picosecond timescale represents a major step toward future developments of ultrafast spintronic systems. Here, the ultrafast magnetization dynamics in engineered Gdx [FeCo]1-x -based structures are studied to compare the effect of femtosecond laser and hot-electron pulses. It is demonstrated that a single femtosecond hot-electron pulse causes deterministic magnetization reversal in either Gd-rich and FeCo-rich alloys similarly to a femtosecond laser pulse. In addition, it is shown that the limiting factor of such manipulation for perpendicular magnetized films arises from the formation of a multidomain state due to dipolar interactions. By performing time-resolved measurements under various magnetic fields, it is demonstrated that the same magnetization dynamics are observed for both light and hot-electron excitation, and that the full magnetization reversal takes place within 40 ps. The efficiency of the ultrafast current-induced magnetization manipulation is enhanced due to the ballistic transport of hot electrons before reaching the GdFeCo magnetic layer.

Concepts: Electron, Magnetic field, Quantum mechanics, Maxwell's equations, Laser, Magnetism, Permeability, Ultrashort pulse