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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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.

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


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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