The overall goal of photonics research is to understand and control light in new and richer ways to facilitate new and richer applications. Many major developments to this end have relied on nonlinear optical techniques, such as lasing, mode-locking, and parametric downconversion, to enable applications based on the interactions of coherent light with matter. These processes often involve nonlinear interactions between photonic and material degrees of freedom spanning multiple spatiotemporal scales. While great progress has been made with relatively simple optimizations, such as maximizing single-mode coherence or peak intensity alone, the ultimate achievement of coherent light engineering is complete, multidimensional control of light–light and light–matter interactions through tailored construction of complex optical fields and systems that exploit all of light’s degrees of freedom. This capability is now within sight, due to advances in telecommunications, computing, algorithms, and modeling. Control of highly multimode optical fields and processes also facilitates quantitative and qualitative advances in optical imaging, sensing, communication, and information processing since these applications directly depend on our ability to detect, encode, and manipulate information in as many optical degrees of freedom as possible. Today, these applications are increasingly being enhanced or enabled by both multimode engineering and nonlinearity. Here, wemore »
The convoluted nonlinear behaviors of heavily multimode photonic structures have been recently the focus of considerable attention. The sheer complexity associated with such multimode systems, allows them to display a host of phenomena that are otherwise impossible in few-mode settings. At the same time, however, it introduces a set of fundamental challenges in terms of comprehending and harnessing their response. Here, we develop an optical thermodynamic approach capable of describing the thermalization dynamics in large scale nonlinear photonic tight-binding networks. For this specific system, an optical Sackur-Tetrode equation is obtained that explicitly provides the optical temperature and chemical potential of the photon gas. Processes like isentropic expansion/compression, Joule expansion, as well as aspects associated with beam cleaning/cooling and thermal conduction effects in such chain networks are discussed. Our results can be used to describe in an effortless manner the exceedingly complex dynamics of highly multimoded nonlinear bosonic systems.
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