Anderson localization and nonlinearity in one-dimensional disordered photonic lattices

Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Jan 11;100(1):013906. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.100.013906. Epub 2008 Jan 10.


We experimentally investigate the evolution of linear and nonlinear waves in a realization of the Anderson model using disordered one-dimensional waveguide lattices. Two types of localized eigenmodes, flat-phased and staggered, are directly measured. Nonlinear perturbations enhance localization in one type and induce delocalization in the other. In a complementary approach, we study the evolution on short time scales of delta-like wave packets in the presence of disorder. A transition from ballistic wave packet expansion to exponential (Anderson) localization is observed. We also find an intermediate regime in which the ballistic and localized components coexist while diffusive dynamics is absent. Evidence is found for a faster transition into localization under nonlinear conditions.