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Nature. 2003 Mar 13;422(6928):147-50.

Observation of two-dimensional discrete solitons in optically induced nonlinear photonic lattices.

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Physics Department, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel.


Nonlinear periodic lattices occur in a large variety of systems, such as biological molecules, nonlinear optical waveguides, solid-state systems and Bose-Einstein condensates. The underlying dynamics in these systems is dominated by the interplay between tunnelling between adjacent potential wells and nonlinearity. A balance between these two effects can result in a self-localized state: a lattice or 'discrete' soliton. Direct observation of lattice solitons has so far been limited to one-dimensional systems, namely in arrays of nonlinear optical waveguides. However, many fundamental features are expected to occur in higher dimensions, such as vortex lattice solitons, bright lattice solitons that carry angular momentum, and three-dimensional collisions between lattice solitons. Here, we report the experimental observation of two-dimensional (2D) lattice solitons. We use optical induction, the interference of two or more plane waves in a photosensitive material, to create a 2D photonic lattice in which the solitons form. Our results pave the way for the realization of a variety of nonlinear localization phenomena in photonic lattices and crystals. Finally, our observation directly relates to the proposed lattice solitons in Bose-Einstein condensates, which can be observed in optically induced periodic potentials.


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