Science and Engineering

Tulane University

Diyar Talbayev, Denys Bondar
New Orleans, LA
December 2020

Time-domain superoscillations (SOs) occur when several light waves of different wavelengths combine, over a brief time interval, into an almost perfect destructive interference.  During this short interval, the electric field is not exactly zero, but can perform a weak oscillation, the superoscillation, that is faster than the original individual light waves.  This counterintuitive property does not contradict any laws of physics and has already enabled breakthrough resolution enhancements in optical microscopy in the spatial domain.  In the time domain, optical SOs of the electric field of light have not been demonstrated.  A pair of researchers at Tulane University will experimentally synthesize optical time-domain SOs for the first time, and assess their potential for breakthrough capabilities in spectroscopy, communications, and wavelength conversion.  They estimate that SOs can enhance ten-fold the sensitivity of light to the out of spectral range optical absorption as they travel through an absorbing material.  This promises the possibility of spectroscopic substance detection through opaque media, which would provide a new paradigm in remote optical sensing.  Super-transmission allows SOs to travel over long distances in an absorbing medium.  This could enable breakthroughs in communications, as in THz frequency wireless, where the main obstacle is the strong THz absorption in the atmosphere.  Yakir Aharonov at Chapman University predicted that the fictitious high frequency of SO can be converted into a real propagating harmonic by opening and closing a window at just the right times.  The team will perform a version of the Aharonov experiment that could enable groundbreaking new sources of ultraviolet and shorter wavelength light.

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