Spontaneous symmetry breaking and switching in planar nonlinear optical antiwaveguides

Boris V. Gisin, Arkady Kaplan, Boris A. Malomed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider guided light beams in a nonlinear planar structure described by the nonlinear Schrödinger equation with a symmetric potential hill. Such an “antiwaveguide” (AWG) structure induces a transition from symmetric to asymmetric modes via a transcritical pitchfork bifurcation, provided that the beam’s power exceeds a certain critical value. It is shown analytically that the asymmetric modes always satisfy the Vakhitov-Kolokolov (necessary) stability criterion; nevertheless, the application of a general Jones’ theorem shows that the AWG modes are always unstable. To realize the actual character of the instability, we perform direct numerical simulations, which reveal that a deflecting instability, which drives the asymmetric beam into the cladding without giving rise to fanning or stripping of the beam, sets in after a propagation distance of approximately 16 transverse widths of the AWG’s core. The symmetry-breaking bifurcation, in combination with the deflecting instability, may be used to design an all-optical switch. The switching can easily be controlled by means of a symmetry-breaking “hot spot” that acts upon an initial symmetric beam launched with a power exceeding the bifurcation value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2804-2809
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000


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