A team of laser physicists from the attoworld team at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Physics and LMU have achieved unparalleled control over light pulses in the mid-infrared wavelength range.
Meanwhile, due to their material property, ultrashort infrared light beam are key to wide range of technological use. The oscillatory infrared light field can trigger molecules in a sample to vibrate at specific frequencies, or steer ultrafast electric currents in semiconductors.
In fact, the intent to utilize the oscillatory waveform of super short light pulses to steer cutting-edge electro-optical processes poses the same question of how to best control the waveform themselves.
Importantly, the production of super short pulses with variable waveforms has been described in wavelength of different ranges such as UV-visible and near-infrared. Physicists at attoworld team have been successful in creating ultrashort mid-infrared pulses and precisely controlled electric-field waveforms. Having infrared waveform manipulator in hand, new possibilities of optical control for biomedical applications and quantum electronics come into reach.
The underlying phenomenon for new infrared-source is a stabilized laser system that produces light pulses with an accurately defined waveform at near-infrared wavelengths. The light pulses comprise only one oscillation of light wave and are thus only a few femtoseconds in length. The pulses when transmitted to a suitable nonlinear crystal results in generation of long-wavelength infrared pulses by taking advantage of complex frequency-mixing processes.
Hence, the team succeeded to generate light pulses with an extraordinarily large spectral coverage of more than three optical octaves ranging from 1 to 12 micrometres. Consequently, the researchers were not only able to comprehend and simulate underlying physics of mixing processes, but could develop a new approach for precise control of mid-infrared light generated via switching off the laser input parameters.