News Release

Extremely broadband source provides bright light spanning ultraviolet to terahertz wavelengths

Seven octaves of coherent spectral coverage can be used for a wide range of molecular spectroscopy applications

Meeting Announcement


Bright light source

image: Bright light source that covers seven optical octaves. view more 

Credit: Image credit: ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences

BARCELONA, SPAIN - Researchers have developed a very bright light source that covers seven optical octaves — from ultraviolet (UV) to terahertz (THz) wavelengths. The tabletop coherent source features a spectral brightness up to five orders of magnitude higher than the brightest synchrotrons, which are large facilities.

By removing the need for mechanically tuning or synchronizing numerous narrow spectrum sources, the new source enables a wide variety of strong field, ultrafast and molecular spectroscopy applications. For instance, simultaneously identifying toxic molecular compounds in pharmaceuticals with high precision or investigating the origins of high-temperature superconductivity.

Lenard Vamos, Ph.D. from ICFO – The Institute of Photonic Sciences will present the new research at the Optica Laser Congress, 11 – 15 December 2022. The presentation entitled “High Brightness 7-Octave-Spanning Coherent Light Source” will be presented on-site and online in a hybrid format.

“The combined coherent spectral bandwidth and high brightness allow to implement new hyperspectral ultrafast spectroscopies without timing jitter,” said Vamos. “This will allow to pump and probe charge and nuclear dynamics in atoms, molecules, liquids and solids with unprecedented precision.”

Broadening spectral range

In the new work, the researchers combined three nonlinear techniques to achieve a spectral range from 340 to 40,000 nm, which would allow one source to be used for numerous molecular spectroscopy applications. First soliton self-compression and dispersive wave generation in an anti-resonant-reflection photonic crystal fiber are used to achieve a very short pulse of 3.5 fs and an extreme supercontinuum from 340 to 6000 nm. Intrapulse difference frequency generation is then applied to broaden the output spectrum to 40,000 nm.

Tuning for purpose

The source’s spectral intensity can be tuned to the range most useful for a specific experiment by changing the soliton self-compression pressure. For example, the authors showed that pressures above 25 bar provide a bright UV output between 340 to 360 nm. They also demonstrate UV peak powers up to 2.5 MW and THz peak powers of 1.8 MW.

Vamos added, “We are presently using this source to optically probe nonlinear signatures of quantum phase transitions in quantum materials such as a high-Tc superconductor. Here, we already showed that such a source can directly identify the various quantum properties of such a complex material.”

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About the 2022 Optica Laser Congress and Exhibition

The Laser Congress provides a comprehensive view of the latest advances in solid-state laser development along with recent new applications. This year’s meeting will be presented 11 – 15 December 2022 in a hybrid meeting format to accommodate virtual (online) participation as well as in-person attendance at the Barcelona International Convention Center. Learn more.

About Optica

Optica (formerly OSA), Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide, is the society dedicated to promoting the generation, application, archiving and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Founded in 1916, it is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate scientific, technical and educational achievement. Discover more at:

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