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Opt Express. 2012 Nov 5;20(23):25718-43. doi: 10.1364/OE.20.025718.

Nonlinear distortion of optical pulses by self-produced free carriers in short or highly lossy silicon-based waveguides.

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Technische Universit├Ąt Hamburg-Harburg, Optische Kommunikationstechnik, 21071 Hamburg, Germany.


An explicit analytical solution for the asymmetric attenuation of optical pulses by self-produced free carriers in silicon waveguides is derived. It allows us to quantify the pulse distortion and to calculate explicitly the free-carrier density and the nonlinear phase shifts caused by the Kerr effect and by free-carrier refraction. We show that omitting two-photon absorption (TPA) as a cause of attenuation and accounting only for free-carrier absorption (FCA) as done in the derivation appropriately models the pulse propagation in short or highly lossy silicon-based waveguides such as plasmonic waveguides with particular use for high-energy input pulses. Moreover, this formulation is also aimed at serving as a tool in discussing the role of FCA in its competition with TPA when used for continuum generation or pulse compression in low-loss silicon waveguides. We show that sech-shaped intensity pulses maintain their shape independently of the intensity or pulse width and self-induced FCA may act as an ideal limiter on them. Pulse propagation under self-induced free-carrier absorption exhibits some features of superluminal propagation such as fast or even backward travelling. We find that input pulses need to have a sufficiently steep front slope to be compressible at all and illustrate this with the FCA-induced pulse broadening for Lorentzian-shaped input pulses.

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