Temporal cavity solitons (CSs) are optical wave packets persisting in a coherently-driven passive Kerr cavity, and they have recently attracted significant attention in fibre-optic resonators as well as in monolithic microcavities [1-3]. Under ideal conditions, several CSs can simultaneously and independently co-exist in the cavity, which has led to them being identified as ideal candidates for bits in an all-optical buffer. It has recently been shown, however, that in a fibre-optic resonator, two temporal CSs can exhibit an ultra-weak, long-range interaction mediated by electrostriction [2]. Such acoustic effects can also play a role in ultrafast mode-locked fibre lasers [4], where they have been suggested as culprits of pulse bunching dynamics [4, 5]. Unfortunately, competing gain dynamics hinder controllable quantitative measurements of these dynamics in laser-based systems. Here we experimentally investigate the collective interactions of a very large number of temporal CSs, reporting the observation of a dynamical self-organization effect whereby a random ensemble of ultrafast CSs evolves into well-defined bunches. The bunch separations are consistent with acoustic theory [4].

© 2015 IEEE

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