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Interaction and Symmetry Breaking of Counterpropagating Light

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "CounterLIGHT" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 80539
website: n.a.

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙500˙000 €
 EC max contribution 1˙500˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2017-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-03-01   to  2023-02-28


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
2    NPL MANAGEMENT LIMITED UK (MIDDLESEX) participant 218˙750.00


 Project objective

Light is generally expected to travel through media independent of its direction. Exceptions can be achieved eg. through polarization changes induced by magnetic fields (known as the Faraday effect) together with polarization-sensitive birefringent materials. However, light can also be influenced by the presence of a counterpropagating light wave. We have recently shown that this leads to the surprising consequence that light sent into tiny glass rings (microresonators) can only propagate in one direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, but not in both directions simultaneously. When sending exactly the same state of light (same power and polarization) into a microresonator, nonlinear interaction induces a spontaneous symmetry breaking in the propagation of light. In this proposal we plan to investigate the fundamental physics and a variety of ground-breaking applications of this effect. In one proposed application, this effect will be used for optical nonreciprocity and the realization of optical diodes in integrated photonic circuits that do not rely on magnetic fields (an important key element in integrated photonics). In another proposed experiment we plan to use the spontaneous symmetry breaking to demonstrate microresonator-based optical gyroscopes that have the potential to beat state-of-the-art sensors in both size and sensitivity. Additional research projects include experiments with all-optical logic gates, photonic memories, and near field sensors based on counterpropagating light states. Finally, we plan to demonstrate a microresonator-based system for the generation of dual-optical frequency combs that can be used for real-time precision spectroscopy in future lab-on-a-chip applications. On the fundamental physics side, our experiments investigate the interaction of counterpropagating light in a system with periodic boundary conditions. The fundamental nature of this system has the potential to impact other fields of science far beyond optical physics.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 François Copie, Michael T. M. Woodley, Leonardo Del Bino, Jonathan M. Silver, Shuangyou Zhang, Pascal Del’Haye
Interplay of Polarization and Time-Reversal Symmetry Breaking in Synchronously Pumped Ring Resonators
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.013905
Physical Review Letters 122/1 2020-04-15
2018 Leonardo Del Bino, Jonathan M. Silver, Michael T. M. Woodley, Sarah L. Stebbings, Xin Zhao, Pascal Del’Haye
Microresonator isolators and circulators based on the intrinsic nonreciprocity of the Kerr effect
published pages: 279, ISSN: 2334-2536, DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.5.000279
Optica 5/3 2020-04-15
2019 Shuangyou Zhang, Jonathan M. Silver, Xiaobang Shang, Leonardo Del Bino, Nick M. Ridler, Pascal Del’Haye
Terahertz wave generation using a soliton microcomb
published pages: 35257, ISSN: 1094-4087, DOI: 10.1364/OE.27.035257
Optics Express 27/24 2020-04-15
2019 Shuangyou Zhang, Jonathan M. Silver, Leonardo Del Bino, Francois Copie, Michael T. M. Woodley, George N. Ghalanos, Andreas Ø. Svela, Niall Moroney, Pascal Del’Haye
Sub-milliwatt-level microresonator solitons with extended access range using an auxiliary laser
published pages: 206, ISSN: 2334-2536, DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.6.000206
Optica 6/2 2020-04-15
2018 Michael T. M. Woodley, Jonathan M. Silver, Lewis Hill, François Copie, Leonardo Del Bino, Shuangyou Zhang, Gian-Luca Oppo, Pascal Del\'Haye
Universal symmetry-breaking dynamics for the Kerr interaction of counterpropagating light in dielectric ring resonators
published pages: , ISSN: 2469-9926, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.98.053863
Physical Review A 98/5 2020-04-15

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