Discrete Solitons in Optics

F. Lederer, G. I. Stegeman, D. N. Christodoulides, G.Assanto, M. Segev and Y. Silberberg

Phys. Rep. 463 (1-3), 1 (2008)


We provide an overview of recent experimental and theoretical developments in the area of optical discrete solitons. By nature, discrete solitons represent self-trapped wavepackets in nonlinear periodic structures and result from the interplay between lattice diffraction (or dispersion) and material nonlinearity. In optics, this class of self-localized states has been successfully observed in both one- and two-dimensional nonlinear waveguide arrays. In recent years such photonic lattices have been implemented or induced in a variety of material systems, including those with cubic (Kerr), quadratic, photorefractive, and liquid-crystal nonlinearities. In all cases the underlying periodicity or discreteness leads to altogether new families of optical solitons that have no counterpart whatsoever in continuous systems. We first review the linear properties of photonic lattices that are key in the understanding of discrete solitons. The physics and dynamics of the fundamental discrete and gap solitons are then analyzed along with those of many other exotic classes ? e.g. twisted, vector and multi-band, cavity, spatio-temporal, random-phase, vortex, and non-local lattice solitons, just to mention a few. The possibility of all-optically routing optical discrete solitons in 2D and 3D periodic environments using soliton collisions is also presented. Finally, soliton formation in optical quasi-crystals and at the boundaries of waveguide array structures are discussed.