Pattern Dynamics in Nonlinear Optical Cavities

Workshop Report

As the first part of a set of Tandem workshops between the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, and the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study (NZIAS) together with the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies (DWC) in Auckland,  the PDNOC workshop in August 2016 brought together about 50 scientists from different fields of research in optics. The common interest and, thus, the overall connection between the communities was the phenomenon of pattern formation that can happen in optically active media, e.g., in different semiconductor cavities, in fiber laser setups or in materials with nonlinear optical properties. The patterns analysed during this week were, on the one hand, temporal patterns that emerge due to the coupling of different cavities, i.e. mode-locking pulses, Q-switching pulses or chaotic spiking, and, on the other hand, spatial patterns that build up due to spatial inhomogeneities. The communities enganged in these different fields were so far well separated from each other and the aim of the workshop was to bring them together and locate synergies by exchanging ideas. Further, the presence of mathematicians, theoretical physicists as well as experimental physicists at the workshop was designed to start discussions that are sometimes hindered by the different scientific languages used within different communities.

The workshop allowed every invited speaker to present and discuss their work within 45 minutes. During the coffee breaks and the social events, including the excursion, the workshop dinner and BBQ, we had numerous discussions both between people who already work together and between participants who just got to know each other. Moreover, participating early-stage researchers got a very broad introduction into the different fields, and they did a very good job in presenting their own research results during the poster session and the contributed talks. Vital discussions emerged at the posters. Overall the workshop was a great success and we could achieve the goal of building bridges between the communities. All speakers gave their utmost best to present their ideas and research results. During the discussion session and informal meetings we recieved very positive and encouraging feedback from the participants.

In a broader sense the improved understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind the optical  phenomena discussed at the workshop may lead to smaller, more energy efficient optical devices that are able to generate, store and process optical data. During the workshop, especially during the discussion session on Friday afternoon, we identified three main topics that are worth of being studied even further in the second dedicated Tandem workshop in Auckland:
(1) optical computing beyond the von Neumann paradigm,
(2) dynamics of complex micro laser systems for processing and storing optical data,
(3) ultra short pulse generation via nonlinear processes in active media.

The workshop is presently being organized with 8-10 invited speakers over a 2 week period in June 2017.