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Collision of Light in Dielectric Resonators - Optically Induced Symmetry Breaking

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CoLiDR (Collision of Light in Dielectric Resonators - Optically Induced Symmetry Breaking)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28

Collision of Light in Dielectric Resonators - Optically Induced Symmetry Breaking

What happens when two lasers are sent in counterpropagating directions through a medium? Surprisingly, this question has only attracted limited attention in the past. However, the nonlinear interaction of counterpropagating light in resonators has fascinating implications. One effect that we recently discovered is the spontaneous symmetry breaking and optically induced nonreciprocity of counter-propagating optical modes. This symmetry breaking manifests itself in a remarkable effect: light of the same frequency and power can enter a microresonator in one direction but not in the other. The fundamental nature of such a broken symmetry could impact science far beyond optical physics. This proposal aims to exploit this discovery for novel types of photonic elements. The work packages in this research project investigate a variety of applications of the spontaneous symmetry breaking, including the development of optical diodes and optical gyroscopes. In particular, this project enabled the development of chip-integrable nonreciprocal diodes that do not require bulky magnets.
The work performed during this research project has been the development of an experimental setup to characterize the interaction of counterpropagating light in ring resonators. This setup has been used for the first demonstration of optical diodes based on the nonlinear interaction of counterpropagating light via the Kerr-effect.

Dissemination of the results has been achieved with several talks at international conferences, including CLEO conference, San Jose, USA; CLEO Europe conference (Munich, Germany); SPIE Nanophotonics conference (Melbourne, Australia). In addition we have published our work from WP1 in Optica Vol. 5, Issue 3, pp. 279-282 (2018). Publications for WP2,3 are currently in preparation. Moreover, results have been published in the news section of our research group website and via an NPL press release. The exploitation of research results on a commercial level is in discussion using potential investors. This is also supported by a new research project on commercialization of microresonator technologies.
We have demonstrated the feasibility of optical microresonator systems for compact chip-integrable photonic diodes. This will allow to develop microphotonic circuits that do not rely on bulky magnets. In the future these type of novel optical diodes can be used in telecommunication networks and for advanced integrated circuits for optical computing.
Scheme of a microresonator-based optical diode