Breathing soliton dynamics in mode-locked fibre lasers

Sonia Boscolo, Junsong Peng, Zihan Zhao, Heping Zeng

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference publication


Dissipative solitons (DSs) in a nonlinear medium are localised coherent structures
that result from the composite balance between conservative effects (nonlinearity
and dispersion/diffraction) and dissipative ones (gain and loss). In addition
to parameter-invariant stationary DSs, numerous nonlinear systems support breathing
(pulsating) DSs, the energy of which is localised in space but oscillates in time, or
vice versa. Such nonlinear waves are attracting considerable research interest in
optics owing to their strong connection with the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam paradox, formation
of rogue waves, turbulence and modulation instability phenomena. Apart from
their fundamental importance in nonlinear science, breathing solitons are also attractive
because of their potential for practical applications, such as in spectroscopy. Yet,
the observation of these breathers has been mainly restricted to optical microresonator platforms.
In this talk, I will report on the generation and study of breathing DSs in passively
mode-locked fibre lasers. Breathing solitons feature periodic spectral and temporal
evolutions over cavity round trips. Experimentally, we capture such fast dynamics
spectrally and temporally in real time using time-stretch dispersive Fourier transform
based single-shot spectral measurements and spatio-temporal intensity measurements.
Remarkably, in the normal-dispersion regime of the laser cavity, breathers
are excited in the laser under the pump threshold for stationary DS mode locking.
For the first time in experiments with mode-locked fibre lasers, breathing soliton pair
molecules are also generated in the cavity, which represent double-breather bound
states with a close intra-pulse separation. The universal nature of the breather formation is indicated by our observation in a varying-length cavity, and further confirmed by numerical simulations of the laser model described by the complex cubic-quintic Ginzburg-Landau equation (CQGLE). When the laser has an average anomalous
cavity dispersion, we observe a regime of operation where the laser oscillator generates
multiple pulsating solitons with extreme ratios of maximal to minimal intensities
in each period of pulsations. The soliton spectra also experience large periodic broadening
and compression. These observations are, to the best of our knowledge, the first
of their kind in a laser system.
Breathers introduce a new regime of mode locking into ultrafast lasers. These
findings not only carry importance from an application perspective, but also contribute
more broadly to the fundamental understanding of dissipative soliton physics. Our
observations further demonstrate that mode-locked fibre lasers are an ideal test bed for
the study of complex nonlinear wave dynamics relevant to a large variety of physical
systems. More generally, the complex CQGLE is the most common mathematical
implementation of a dissipative system, describing many different nonlinear effects
in physics, such as nonlinear waves, superconductivity, superfluidity, Bose-Einstein
condensates, liquid crystals, plasmas, and numerous other phenomena. Therefore, it is
reasonable to assume that the breathing DS dynamics found in this work are not limited
to optical systems and will also be discovered in various other physical systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of Partial Differential Equations in Analysis and Mathematical Physics
Place of PublicationCagliari, Sardinia (Italy)
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019
EventPartial Differential Equations in Analysis and Mathematical Physics - Santa Margherita di Pula (Hotel Flamingo), Cagliari, Italy
Duration: 30 May 20191 Jun 2019


ConferencePartial Differential Equations in Analysis and Mathematical Physics
Abbreviated titlePDEAMP
Internet address

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors

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  • Cite this

    Boscolo, S., Peng, J., Zhao, Z., & Zeng, H. (2019). Breathing soliton dynamics in mode-locked fibre lasers. In Book of Abstracts of Partial Differential Equations in Analysis and Mathematical Physics (pp. 27-28).