Favorite Photonics Publications of 2022

This is an exercise that I really enjoy, reviewing the publications that got me excited over the past year. There are a few “big deal” results, that may have even made it into the general press, but there are also really specific results that I care about because they are close to what I work on. So, this is a completely biased, subjective, and incomplete list (excluding my own work this time) of my favorite optics and photonics publications of 2022.

A trio of papers reported using plasma acceleration to produce free-electron laser light. This is intimately related to my PhD work (although these results are not from my old team). The first results of this kind came in 2021 from a Chinese team, and these three are significant advancements beyond that work.

25 May, Nature
Free-electron lasing with compact beam-driven plasma wakefield accelerator
Using an electron-plasma accelerator, an italian team produced free-electron laser light for the first time in a proof-of-principle fashion.

29 November, Physical Review Letters
Stable Operation of a Free-Electron Laser Driven by a Plasma Accelerator
The same team as above seeded their beam-driven plasma accelerator-based FEL with some of the original laser light and could achieve much higher stability.

05 December, Nature Photonics
Seeded free-electron laser driven by a compact laser plasma accelerator
A German and French collaboration used a laser-plasma accelerator to drive a seeded FEL, essentially combining the results of 2021 with those of the Italian team.

Another trio of papers were published together on August 8th reporting on a big jump in performance of laser-driven fusion at the National Ignition Facility in the US. Now, there is an even bigger result apparently achieved on 05 Dec where they exceeded yet another criteria, but there isn’t a paper to link to yet. Nuclear fusion is thought to be a limitless, safe, and clean option for energy production in the next century, and there are two main methods to achieve it: laser-driven or magnetic confinement. In the past few years there are significant private-sector efforts to try other methods.

Physical Review Letters
Lawson Criterion for Ignition Exceeded in an Inertial Fusion Experiment

Physical Review E
Design of an inertial fusion experiment exceeding the Lawson criterion for ignition
Experimental achievement and signatures of ignition at the National Ignition Facility

There were significant advancements in demonstrating spatio-temporal shaping of ultrashort laser pulses, either with specific toroidal structure or arbitrarily.

02 June, Nature Photonics
Toroidal vortices of light

01 July, Nature Photonics
Observation of toroidal pulses of light

29 August, Nature Photonics
Synthesis of ultrafast wavepackets with tailored spatiotemporal properties

26 October, Science Advances
Synthesizing ultrafast optical pulses with arbitrary spatiotemporal control

Along with a very cool new technique combining compressed sensing with space-time pulse characterization (for which I wrote a comment article):

02 August, Light: Science & Applications
Single-shot compressed optical field topography

Logan Wright and colleagues wrote two giant reviews on multi-mode nonlinear/ultrafast technologies and physics, which will surely be the references for the coming years.

19 July, Optica
Nonlinear multimode photonics: nonlinear optics with many degrees of freedom

08 September, Nature Physics
Physics of highly multimode nonlinear optical systems

There was also a really interesting roadmap article on multi-mode light shaping, combining the expertise and viewpoints of many authors, and I luckily got to contribute to a more recent roadmap on spatio-temporal light (still in review).

early January, Journal of optics
Roadmap on multimode light shaping

Lastly, the nascent field of multi-mode integrated photonics has two interesting papers that also involve photonic micoresonators.

06 January, Nature Photonics
Optically reconfigurable quasi-phase-matching in silicon nitride microresonators

14 December, Science Advances
Photo-induced cascaded harmonic and comb generation in silicon nitride microresonators

This is just a subset of the papers I found interesting this year, and excludes the most technical papers that I’ve been reading. And I also am annoyed that almost everything is from “glossy” journals like Nature, Science, Optica, etc. But that’s the way it is, and it’s partially because I exclude the most technical works that other journals aren’t represented.

Do you have other favorite photonics publications from 2022? Let me know in the comments.

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