Temporal cavity solitons (CSs) are pulses of light recirculating in a continuously-driven passive nonlinear resonator [1]. They have recently attracted great interest in both macroscopic fiber resonators [1-3] as well as in monolithic microresonators [4,5], and have implications from optical signal processing to stable “Kerr” frequency combs. Although CSs can be observed in both systems, the means with which they have been experimentally created differ significantly. In particular, in microresonators, CSs have emerged spontaneously as the driving laser is tuned across a resonance [5]. Until now, similar spontaneous dynamics have remained unobserved in fiber resonators, where CSs have instead been created using external “addressing” pulses [1-3]. Here we report the first experimental observation of spontaneous emergence and one-by-one disappearance of temporal CSs in a passive fiber cavity. In contrast to microresonator experiments, and thanks to the macroscopic dimensions of our resonator, we are able to resolve the roundtrip-to-roundtrip soliton dynamics in real time.

© 2015 IEEE

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