Studying the transition from a linearly stable coherent laminar state to a highly disordered state of turbulence is conceptually and technically challenging, and of great interest because all pipe and channel flows are of that type. In optics, understanding how a system loses coherence, as spatial size or the strength of excitation increases, is a fundamental problem of practical importance. Here, we report our studies of a fibre laser that operates in both laminar and turbulent regimes. We show that the laminar phase is analogous to a one-dimensional coherent condensate and the onset of turbulence is due to the loss of spatial coherence. Our investigations suggest that the laminar-turbulent transition in the laser is due to condensate destruction by clustering dark and grey solitons. This finding could prove valuable for the design of coherent optical devices as well as systems operating far from thermodynamic equilibrium.
- fiber laser