Dynamic suppression of Rayleigh light scattering in dielectric resonators

TitleDynamic suppression of Rayleigh light scattering in dielectric resonators
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsKim, S, Taylor, JM, Bahl, G

The ultimate limits of performance for any classical optical system are set by sub-wavelength fluctuations within the host material, that may be frozen-in or even dynamically induced. The most common manifestation of such sub-wavelength disorder is Rayleigh light scattering, which is observed in nearly all wave-guiding technologies today and can lead to both irreversible radiative losses as well as undesirable intermodal coupling. While it has been shown that backscattering from disorder can be suppressed by breaking time-reversal symmetry in magneto-optic and topological insulator materials, common optical dielectrics possess neither of these properties. Here we demonstrate an optomechanical approach for dynamically suppressing Rayleigh backscattering within dielectric resonators. We achieve this by locally breaking time-reversal symmetry in a silica resonator through a Brillouin scattering interaction that is available in all materials. Near-complete suppression of Rayleigh backscattering is experimentally confirmed through three independent measurements -- the reduction of the back-reflections caused by scatterers, the elimination of a commonly seen normal-mode splitting effect, and by measurement of the reduction in intrinsic optical loss. More broadly, our results provide new evidence that it is possible to dynamically suppress Rayleigh backscattering within any optical dielectric medium, for achieving robust light propagation in nanophotonic devices in spite of the presence of scatterers or defects.