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Pulse Propagation Modeling

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Definition: working with physical models describing the propagation of ultrashort pulses e.g. in lasers or optical fibers

German: Modellierung der Pulsausbreitung

Categories: methods, physical foundations, light pulses

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature

When propagating in transparent optical media, the properties of ultrashort pulses can undergo complicated changes. Typical physical effects influencing pulses are:

Of course, different effects can act simultaneously, and often interact in surprising ways. For example, chromatic dispersion and Kerr nonlinearity can lead to soliton effects.

Relevance of Pulse Propagation Effects

Pulse propagation effects as mentioned above are relevant in various kinds of situations. Some examples are:

Techniques for Modeling of Pulse Propagation

Depending on the situation, different kinds of physical modeling techniques are required. Some of the most important ones are shortly described in the following:

By applying statistical techniques, pulse propagation models can also be used to investigate noise phenomena [7].


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 4 suppliers for pulse propagation modeling software. Among them:


[1]P. V. Mamyshev and S. V. Chernikov, “Ultrashort-pulse propagation in optical fibers”, Opt. Lett. 15 (19), 1076 (1990)
[2]G. P. Agrawal, “Optical pulse propagation in doped fiber amplifiers”, Phys. Rev. A 44 (11), 7493 (1991)
[3]H. A. Haus et al., “Structures for additive pulse mode locking”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8 (10), 2068 (1991)
[4]P. L. François, “Nonlinear propagation of ultrashort pulses in optical fibers: total field formulation in the frequency domain”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8 (2), 276 (1991)
[5]M. Potasek et al., “Analytic and numerical study of pulse broadening in nonlinear dispersive fibers”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 3 (2), 205 (1992)
[6]D. Marcuse, “RMS width of pulses in nonlinear dispersive fibers”, J. Lightwave Technol. 10 (1), 17 (1992)
[7]R. Paschotta, “Noise of mode-locked lasers. Part I: numerical model”, Appl. Phys. B 79, 153 (2004); R. Paschotta, “Noise of mode-locked lasers. Part II: timing jitter and other fluctuations”, Appl. Phys. B 79, 163 (2004)
[8]B. Burgoyne et al., “Nonlinear pulse propagation in optical fibers using second order moments”, Opt. Express 15 (16), 10075 (2007)
[9]G. P. Agrawal, Nonlinear Fiber Optics, 4th edn., Academic Press, New York (2007)
[10]R. Paschotta, tutorial on "Passive Fiber Optics"
[11]R. Paschotta, tutorial on "Passive Fiber Optics", Part 12: Ultrashort Pulses and Signals in Fibers
[12]R. Paschotta, tutorial on "Modeling of Fiber Amplifiers and Lasers", part 7

(Suggest additional literature!)

See also: dispersion, nonlinearities, nonlinear pulse distortion, pulse compression, double pulses, parabolic pulses, supercontinuum generation, Haus Master equation
and other articles in the categories methods, physical foundations, light pulses

Dr. R. Paschotta

This encyclopedia is authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta, the founder and executive of RP Photonics Consulting GmbH. Contact this distinguished expert in laser technology, nonlinear optics and fiber optics, and find out how his technical consulting services (e.g. product designs, problem solving, independent evaluations, or staff training) and software could become very valuable for your business!

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