Soliton enhancement of spontaneous symmetry breaking

Alessandro Alberucci, Armando Piccardi, Nina Kravets, Oleksandr Buchnev, Gaetano Assanto

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    Spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB) occurs when noise triggers an initially symmetric system to evolve toward one of its nonsymmetric states. Topological and optical SSB involve material reconfiguration/transition and light propagation/distribution in time or space, respectively. In anisotropic optical media, light beam propagation and distribution of the optic axis can be linked, thereby connecting topological and optical SSB. Using nonlinear soft matter, namely uniaxial liquid crystals, we report on simultaneous topological and optical SSB, showing that spatial solitons enhance the noise-driven transition of the medium from a symmetric to an asymmetric configuration, while acquiring a power-dependent transverse velocity in either of two specular directions with respect to the initial wavevector. Solitons enhance SSB by further distorting the optic axis distribution through nonlinear reorientation, resulting in power-tunable walk-off as well as hysteresis in beam refraction versus angle of incidence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)783-789
    Number of pages7
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Bistability
    • Instabilities and chaos
    • Liquid crystals
    • Nonlinear optics
    • Self-action effects
    • Spatial solitons
    • Transverse effects in

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 1

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
    • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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