Julia A. Lang, Sarah R. Hutter, Alfred Leitenstorfer, Georg Herink

Controlling intracavity dual-comb soliton motion in a single-fiber laser

  • Multidisciplinary

Ultrafast science builds on dynamic compositions of precisely timed light pulses, and evolving groups of pulses are observed in almost every mode-locked laser. However, the underlying physics has rarely been controlled or used until now. Here, we demonstrate a general approach to control soliton motion inside a dual-comb laser and the programmable synthesis of ultrashort pulse patterns. Introducing single-pulse modulation inside an Er:fiber laser, we rapidly shift the timing between two temporally separated soliton combs. Their superposition outside the cavity yields ultrashort soliton sequences. On the basis of real-time spectral interferometry, we observe the deterministic switching of intersoliton separation arising from the interplay of attracting and repulsing forces via ultrafast nonlinearity and laser gain dynamics. Harnessing these insights, we demonstrate the high-speed all-optical synthesis of nano- to picosecond pump-probe delays and programmable free-form soliton trajectories. This concept may pave the way to a new class of all-optical delay generators for ultrafast measurements at unprecedented high tuning, cycling, and acquisition speeds.

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