In photonics and quantum optics, a key challenge facing any technological application has traditionally been the mitigation of optical losses. Recent work has shown that a new class of optical materials, called Parity-Time symmetric materials, that consist of a precisely balanced distribution of loss and gain can be exploited to engineer novel functionalities for propagating and filtering electromagnetic radiation. Here we show a generic property of optical systems that feature an arbitrary distribution of loss and gain, described by non-Hermitian operators, namely that overall lossy optical systems can transiently amplify certain input signals by several orders of magnitude. We present a mathematical framework to analyze the dynamics of wave propagation in media with an arbitrary distribution of loss and gain and construct the initial conditions to engineer such non-Hermitian power amplifiers.
Hakan E. Tureci, Konstantinos G. Makris, and Li Ge, "Giant amplification of light in non-hermitian photonic materials (Presentation Recording)," Proc. SPIE 9546, Active Photonic Materials VII, 95461I (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 12, 2015; Published: 5 October 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2190265.4519370275001.
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