Abstract

In the regime of resonant coherent light–matter interaction, light pulses may interact with each other indirectly via a polarization wave created by the other pulse. We show that such interaction allows fast creation and erasing of high-contrast dynamic population density gratings, as well as control of their period in a few-cycle regime. Our scheme uses counter-propagating optical pulses, which do not cross each other in the medium. The mechanism is able to work with pulse durations up to the single-cycle limit. Somewhat surprisingly, ultrafast grating wave vector control requires the generation of polarization waves with the phase velocity much smaller than that of light.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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