Disorder-induced acceleration of wave condensation in multimode fibers

Antonio Picozzi
Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, ICB, 9 Av. A. Savary, 21078 Dijon, France

Recent studies on wave turbulence revealed that a purely classical system of random waves can exhibit a process of condensation that originates from the divergence of the Rayleigh-Jeans (RJ) equilibrium distribution, in analogy with the quantum Bose-Einstein condensation (see references in [1]). However, the observation of optical wave condensation in a conservative (cavity-less) configuration is hindered by the prohibitive large propagation lengths required to achieve the RJ thermalization.

A phenomenon of spatial beam self-cleaning has been recently discovered in multimode optical fibers (MMFs), whose underlying mechanism still remains debated [2]. Light propagation in MMFs is affected by a structural disorder of the material. We formulate a wave turbulence kinetic description of the random waves accounting for the impact of the disorder. The theory unexpectedly reveals a dramatic acceleration of thermalization and condensation by several orders of magnitudes, which can probably explain the effect of spatial beam self-cleaning as a macroscopic population of the fundamental mode of the MMF [1]. The theory also explains why spatial beam self-cleaning has not been observed in step-index MMFs.

Our experiments in MMFs evidence the transition to light condensation: By decreasing the kinetic energy ('temperature') below a critical value, we observe a transition from the incoherent thermal RJ distribution to wave condensation [1]. These observations are corroborated by the experimental evidence that beam self-cleaning is characterized by a turbulence cascade of kinetic energy toward the higher-order modes of the MMF [3].

[1] A. Fusaro et al., Dramatic acceleration of wave condensation mediated by disorder in multimode fibers, PRL 122, 123902 (2019)

[2] K. Krupa et al., Spatial beam self-cleaning in multimode fibres, Nature Phot. 11, 237 (2017)

[3] E. V. Podivilov et al., Hydrodynamic 2D turbulence and spatial beam condensation in multimode optical fibers, PRL 122, 103902 (2019)