Slow and fast light associated with polariton interference

B. Gu, N. H. Kwong, R. Binder, Arthur L. Smirl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Propagation times of optical pulses through a medium near an absorptive resonance with and without spatial dispersion are studied and contrasted. When spatial dispersion is not present, a light pulse is expected to traverse a medium in a time inversely proportional to its group velocity. In a medium with spatial dispersion, where two polariton modes exist (here, bulk GaAs as an example), a similar description is obtained if the losses are such that light propagates primarily in one mode. However, we show that, when the broadening of the resonance (dephasing rate) is below a critical value, a frequency range exists near resonance where the transit times are determined by interference between copropagating polaritons and deviate strongly from expectations based on the group velocities of the polariton branches. When the interference is constructive at the samples end face, the transit times are determined by the average of the inverse group velocities; when it is destructive, we find abrupt transitions between very slow (long positive) and very fast (large negative) transit times. We present quantitative criteria for the resolution of these features and for distortion-free propagation in the spectral vicinity of them. Our analysis puts the well-known slow- and fast-light effects in systems without spatial dispersion into a broader context by illustrating that they are a limiting case of systems with spatial dispersion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number035313
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 22 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Slow and fast light associated with polariton interference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this