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Deterministic polarization chaos from a laser diode

Publication date 2013
B-Phot Authors Martin Virte, Krassimir Panajotov, Hugo Thienpont
DOI 10.1038/NPHOTON.2012.286
Citation
M. Virte, K. Panajotov, H. Thienpont, and M. Sciamanna, “Deterministic polarization chaos from a laser diode,” Nat. Photonics, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 60–65, 2013.
Abstract Fifty years after the invention of the laser diode, and forty years after the butterfly effect signified the unpredictability of deterministic chaos, it is commonly believed that a laser diode behaves like a damped nonlinear oscillator and cannot be driven into chaotic operation without additional forcing or parameter modulation. Here, we counter that belief and report the first example of a free-running laser diode generating chaos. The underlying physics comprises a nonlinear coupling between two elliptically polarized modes in a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser. We identify chaos in experimental time series and show, theoretically, the bifurcations leading to single-and double-scroll attractors with characteristics similar to Lorenz chaos. The reported polarization chaos resembles noise-driven mode hopping, but shows opposite statistical properties. Our findings open up new research areas for the creation of controllable and integrated sources of optical chaos.
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