Using second-order coherence theory of nonstationary light we examine in detail the coherence properties of supercontinuum radiation generated in nonlinear fibers. We show that the supercontinuum can be divided into quasi-coherent and quasi-stationary parts and that the relative contributions depend on the dynamics involved in the spectral broadening process. We establish the correspondence between the quasi-coherent part of the two-frequency correlation function of the second-order theory and the usual Dudley–Coen degree of coherence used to characterize the shot-to-shot stability of supercontinuum sources. Experimental implementation for measuring separately the quasi-coherent and quasi-stationary contributions is further addressed. Our results open the route for complete characterization of supercontinuum coherence.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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