Abstract

It is typically assumed that the fluctuations associated with a stationary broadband incoherent field propagate in free space at the speed of light in vacuum c. Here we introduce the concept of “coherence group velocity” which, in analogy to the group velocity of coherent pulses, is the speed of the peak of the coherence function. We confirm experimentally that incorporating a judicious spatio-temporal spectral structure into a field allows tuning its coherence group velocity in free space. Utilizing light from a superluminescent diode, we interferometrically measure the group delay encountered by the cross-correlation of a structured field synthesized from this source with the unstructured diode field. By tracking the propagation of this cross-correlation function, we measure coherence group velocities in the range of 12c to 6c.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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