Nonlocal Optical Propagation in Nonlinear Nematic Liquid Crystals

M. Peccianti, C. Conti, G. Assanto, A. De Luca, and C. Umeton

J. Nonl. Opt. Phys. Mat 12, 525-538 (2003)


Optical propagation in nematic liquid crystals is characterized by a large and highly-nonlocal Kerr-like nonlinearity. We investigate the fundamental role played by spatial nonlocality in nonlinear optical propagation, and develop a model able to predict the main features of spatial solitons and modulational instability in nematic liquid crystals. The model unifies solitons in physical systems exhibiting different degrees of nonlocality, disclosing a connection between nonlocal solitons and parametric solitons in quadratic media. Finally, soliton breathing as well as other characteristics of nonlocal propagation are experimentally demonstrated in a specifically-engineered liquid crystal cell.