It is well known that interaction between two coherent bright solitons can be either attractive or repulsive depending on their relative phase, whereas interactions between two dark solitons is always repulsive.1 Surprisingly, we find that these interactions can change dramatically when each soliton itself is involved in formation of vector solitons, which interact and generate multi-component bound states (“composite solitons”). In particular, the repulsion between two dark solitons in a self- defocusing medium can be suppressed once they team up with two out-of-phase bright beams. In fact, these four components form two vector solitons and are all “glued” together due to balance between repulsion of dark components and attraction of bright components. Such vector-soliton interaction is different from interaction between fundamental one- component scalar-solitons (for which case two out-of-phase bright solitons are expected to repel rather than attract), and has been explored only recently from the nonlinear theory of soliton-induced waveguides.2 Here we report the first experimental observation of interaction between vector solitons and the bound states formed due to ‘solitonic gluons’.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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