Abstract

The effects of linear and two-photon absorption on bright spatial soliton propagation are studied. A spatial soliton switch that achieves gain through the novel mechanism of colliding, dragging, or trapping of two fundamental solitons of different widths is proposed. Figures of merit for use in evaluating the suitability of absorbing nonlinear media for soliton switching applications are presented. The main effect of linear absorption is to limit the propagation distance, which places an upper bound on the width of the soliton in order to fit sufficient characteristic soliton propagation lengths within the device. The optical limiting nature of two-photon absorption places an upper bound on the gain that an interaction can achieve. The combined effects of linear and two-photon absorption are to reduce the gain upper bound imposed by two-photon absorption alone with the addition of the soliton width constraint. A maximized gain upper bound is determined solely by material parameters and is compared among three promising nonlinear materials. It is shown numerically that the spatial soliton dragging interaction requires shorter propagation distances and achieves greater gain than the collision interaction and that both are tolerant to the presence of absorption and can provide, with high contrast, gains of three or greater using measured material parameters. These results warrant pursuing the implementation of spatial soliton-based logic gates.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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