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Manipulation and removal of defects in spontaneous optical patterns

Neubecker, R. and Benkler, E. and Martin, R. and Oppo, G.L. (2003) Manipulation and removal of defects in spontaneous optical patterns. Physical Review Letters, 91 (11). pp. 113903-1. ISSN 0031-9007

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Defects play an important role in a number of fields dealing with ordered structures. We demonstrate theoretically and experimentally the possibility of an active manipulation of defects in terms of an externally induced motion. We focus on the spontaneous formation of two-dimensional spatial structures in a nonlinear-optical system, a liquid crystal light valve under single optical feedback. For a particular parameter setting, a spontaneously formed hexagonal intensity pattern contains several dislocation-type defects. A scheme based on Fourier filtering allows us to restore spatial order in a selectable part of the pattern. Starting without control, the controlled area is progressively expanded, such that defects are swept out of the pattern.