Research Highlights

Wave-front shaping controls nonlinearity in complex media

May 07, 2018

Wavefront shaping in random media is a topic of great interest with both fundamental implications and many new exciting applications such as imaging through turbid media, looking through fog, and using multimode fibers as ultra-thin endoscopes. A fascinating subfield encompasses the dynamics of propagating modes in multimode fibers, involving intriguing physics and opportunities for application. In particular, nonlinearities in multimode fibers remains a largely unexplored field with opportunities to exploit the multimode degrees of freedom for controlling spatial-spectral-temporal interactions. A University of Colorado team, supported by the STROBE Science and Technology Center, has demonstrated the synergy between wavefront shaping and nonlinearity in complex media such as multimode fibers. The team implemented a new kind of control that enables optimization of highly non-linear interactions through fibers. Tailoring the wave-front shape at the input, the system controls the generation of nonlinear phenomena known as stimulated-Raman-scattering cascades and four-wave-mixing, generating and shaping the different colors of the light pulses at the output of the fiber. This research has implications for the understanding of so-called adaptive systems, optical communications, fiber lasers, and imaging.

O. Tzang, A. Miguel Caravaca Aguirre , Kelvin Wagner, and R. Piestun, “Adaptive wavefront shaping for controlling nonlinear multimode interactions in optical fibres” Nature Photonics 12, 368–374 (2018).

Sub-wavelength coherent diffractive imaging using a tabletop high harmonic light source

March 20, 2017

Visible microscopes can produce crisp images with a spatial resolution on order of the illuminating wavelength, because of the availability of near-perfect lenses in this region of the spectrum. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and soft X-ray (SXR) light has wavelengths 10-100 times shorter than visible light: thus, it should be possible to design a powerful microscope that can image structures that are too small or too opaque to be seen with visible light. However, EUV/SXR lenses are very lossy and imperfect, limiting the advantage of using shorter wavelengths, and blurring the resulting images to >8 times the theoretical limit. Fortunately, new techniques pioneered by STROBE scientists Kapteyn, Murnane and Miao make it possible to build lensless microscopes illuminated by coherent laser-like beams — a capability that is revolutionizing X-ray imaging worldwide. Very recently, the Kapteyn-Murnane group at CU Boulder used tabletop EUV beams at a wavelength of 13nm to achieve sub-wavelength spatial resolution imaging at short wavelengths for the first time – essentially demonstrating the first near-perfect X-ray microscope. Moreover, because the EUV source produces exceedingly short, femtosecond (~10-15 sec), bursts of light, it can now be used to make stroboscopic movies to observe how the nanoworld functions. STROBE graduate student Dennis Gardner received the American Physical Society Division of Laser Science Thesis Award for this work.   

D. Gardner, M. Tanksalvala, E. Shanblatt, X. Zhang, B. Galloway, C. Porter, R. Karl, C. Bevis, D. Adams, H. Kapteyn, M. Murnane, G. Mancini, Nature Photonics 11, 259–263 (2017).

Deciphering chemical order/disorder and material properties at the single-atom level

February 01, 2017

The precise location of atoms, together with the direction and strength of their bonds to one another, determine the mechanical, catalytic, optical, electronic and magnetic properties of many materials. The STROBE deputy director (John Miao) led an interdisciplinary team (including STROBE members from UCLA, UC Berkeley and LBNL) that determined the 3D coordinates of 6,569 iron and 16,627 platinum atoms in a model iron-platinum nanoparticle system, with 22 picometer precision. The measured atomic positions and chemical species have been used as direct input to quantum mechanical calculations to correlate crystal defects and chemical order/disorder with material properties at the single-atom level. This work also solved a puzzle as to why the magnetic strength of the iron-platinum nanoparticle was not as high as expected – the atomic positions were optimal only in a small region of the nanoparticle. This work makes significant advances in characterization capabilities and expands our fundamental understanding of structure-property relationships, which is anticipated to find broad applications in physics, chemistry, materials science, nanoscience and nanotechnology.

C.C. Yang, M.C. Chen, C. Scott, O. R., A. Xu, P. Jr., F. Wu, W. Sun, J. Theis, M. Zhou, P.R.C. Eisenbach, R.F. Kent, H. Sabirianov, E. Zeng, J. Miao, Nature 542, 75-79 (2017)