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CasebyCase: Halfing the amplitude of light

  1. Aug 12, 2008 #1
    Is there a way to reduce the amplitude of a light wave to half its value in one case and do nothing in the other cases?

    Three Cases:

    Case A: Light amplitude input is 2 - reduce to 1 on output (cut in half)
    Case B: Light amplitude input is 1 - output is 1 (do nothing/pass through)
    Case C: Light amplitude input is 0 - output is 0

    I would like to design a hi-speed device that would allow this to occur. By hi-speed I mean instantaneous or without converting to/from any electronics. I can almost envison a possibility where you have some kind of photon absorbing medium that doesnt kick in until a certain intensity is reached. Does anyone have any insight or could point me into a(ny) direction with this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 12, 2008 #2
    Broadly, look into passive nonlinear optics.
  4. Aug 13, 2008 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Both Kerr lenses and saturable absorbers can be employed to do this. See how femtosecond pulses are generated.
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