In the recent years, different mechanisms have been suggested for implementing the functionality of a transistor for photons rather than electrons. These ideas include, e.g., the nonlinear response of an inverted single molecule [1] or nonlinear surface-plasmon polaritonic crystals. However, to the best of our knowledge, no optical transistor has been demonstrated to date that can switch a high optical power with a weaker control signal nor one that can be cascaded in several stages. As a consequence of these shortcomings, Miller defined a list of 7 necessary criteria for a useful optical transistor [2]. In the following, we discuss a novel concept that allows fulfilling all these criteria for the first time. This concept is based on cross-phase modulation between two pulses in the extended interaction zone of an optical event horizon [3]. In particular, we experimentally show that a weak non-solitonic pulse can continuously shift a more than 5 times stronger soliton in wavelength, with the soliton maintaining its stable solitonic properties during the switching event. As shown in Fig. 1, we have chosen two 50 fs pulses with nJ energies and center wavelength of 590 nm (yellow pulse) and 960 nm (red pulse), which are launched into a 50 cm long polarization-maintaining photonic crystal fiber (NKT NL-PM-750) at adjustable delay. The energy ratio between the yellow and red pulse is 1:4.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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