Transverse optical patterns for ultra-low-light-level all-optical switching

A. M C Dawes, Daniel J. Gauthier, Stefan Schumacher, N. H. Kwong, R. Binder, Arthur L. Smirl

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


We review recent theoretical and experimental efforts toward developing an all-optical switch based on transverse optical patterns. Transverse optical patterns are formed when counterpropagating laser beams interact with a nonlinear medium. A perturbation, in the form of a weak switch beam injected into the nonlinear medium, controls the orientation of the generated patterns. Each state of the pattern orientation is associated with a state of the switch. That is, information is stored in the orientation state. A realization of this switch using a warm rubidium vapor shows that it can be actuated by as few as 600±40 photons with a response time of 5µs. Models of non-linear optical interactions in semiconductor quantum wells and microresonators suggest these systems are also suitable for use as fast all-optical switches using this same conceptual design, albeit at higher switching powers. © 2010 by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-243
Number of pages23
JournalLaser and Photonics Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • All-optical
  • Counterpropagating
  • Excitons
  • Nonlinear
  • Polaritons
  • Switching
  • Transverse


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