Synthesis and dissociation of soliton molecules in parallel optical-soliton reactors
Mode-locked lasers have been widely used to explore interactions between optical solitons, including bound-soliton states that may be regarded as “photonic molecules”. Conventional mode-locked lasers normally, however, host at most only a few solitons, which means that stochastic behaviours involving large numbers of solitons cannot easily be studied under controlled experimental conditions. Here we report the use of an optoacoustically mode-locked fibre laser to create hundreds of temporal traps or “reactors” in parallel, within each of which multiple solitons can be isolated and controlled both globally and individually using all-optical methods. We achieve on-demand synthesis and dissociation of soliton molecules within these reactors, in this way unfolding a novel panorama of diverse dynamics in which the statistics of multi-soliton interactions can be studied. The results are of crucial importance in understanding dynamical soliton interactions and may motivate potential applications for all-optical control of ultrafast light fields in optical resonators.