Stability of Solitons
We have described what optical solitons are and, using mathematics, we have seen that, if we want to create them, we have to create a field with a particular shape (just sech for the first order) with a particular power related to the duration of the impulse. But what if we are a bit wrong in creating such impulses? Adding small perturbations to the equations and solving them numerically, it is possible to show that mono-dimensional solitons are stable. They are often referred as (1 + 1) D solitons, meaning that they are limited in one dimension (x or t, as we have seen) and propagate in another one (z).
If we create such a soliton using slightly wrong power or shape, then it will adjust itself until it reaches the standard sech shape with the right power. Unfortunately this is achieved at the expense of some power loss, that can cause problems because it can generate another non-soliton field propagating together with the field we want. Mono-dimensional solitons are very stable: for example, if we will generate a first order soliton anyway; if N is greater we'll generate a higher order soliton, but the focusing it does while propagating may cause high power peaks damaging the media.
The only way to create a (1 + 1) D spatial soliton is to limit the field on the y axis using a dielectric slab, then limiting the field on x using the soliton.
On the other hand, (2 + 1) D spatial solitons are unstable, so any small perturbation (due to noise, for example) can cause the soliton to diffract as a field in a linear medium or to collapse, thus damaging the material. It is possible to create stable (2 + 1) D spatial solitons using saturating nonlinear media, where the Kerr relationship is valid until it reaches a maximum value. Working close to this saturation level makes it possible to create a stable soliton in a three dimensional space.
If we consider the propagation of shorter (temporal) light pulses or over a longer distance, we need to consider higher-order corrections and therefore the pulse carrier envelope is governed by the higher-order nonlinear Schrödinger equation (HONSE) for which there are some specialized (analytical) soliton solutions.
Read more about this topic: Soliton (optics)
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