Disorder-induced cavities, resonances, and lasing in randomly layered media

Yury Bliokh, Elena I. Chaikina, Noemí Lizárraga, Eugenio R. Méndez, Valentin Freilikher, Franco Nori

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We study, theoretically and experimentally, disorder-induced resonances in randomly layered samples and develop an algorithm for the detection and characterization of the effective cavities that give rise to these resonances. This algorithm enables us to find the eigenfrequencies and to pinpoint the locations of the resonant cavities that appear in individual realizations of random samples for arbitrary distributions of the widths and refractive indices of the layers. Each cavity is formed in a region whose size is a few localization lengths. Its eigenfrequency is independent of the location inside the sample and does not change if the total length of the sample is increased by, for example, adding more scatterers on the sides. We show that the total number of cavities N cav and resonances N res per unit frequency interval is uniquely determined by the size of the disordered system and is independent of the strength of the disorder. In an active amplifying medium, part of the cavities may host lasing modes whose number is less than N res. The ensemble of lasing cavities behaves as distributed feedback lasers, provided that the gain in the medium exceeds the lasing threshold, which is specific for each cavity. We present the results of experiments carried out with single-mode optical fibers with gain and randomly located resonant Bragg reflectors (periodic gratings). When the fiber was illuminated by a pumping laser with an intensity high enough to overcome the lasing threshold, the resonances revealed themselves by peaks in the emission spectrum. Our experimental results are in good agreement with the theory presented here.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054204
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 23 Aug 2012


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