Photonic lattices, waveguide arrays, coherence photon statistics, disorder, disordered lattices, coupled waveguides, photon number distribution, diagonal disorder, off diagonal disorder, photonic thermalization gap, discrete anderson speckle, anderson localization, transverse localization, topology


Propagation of coherent waves through disordered media, whether optical, acoustic, or radio waves, results in a spatially redistributed random intensity pattern known as speckle -- a statistical phenomenon. The subject of this dissertation is the statistics of monochromatic coherent light traversing disordered photonic lattices and its dependence on the disorder class, the level of disorder and the excitation configuration at the input. Throughout the dissertation, two disorder classes are considered, namely, diagonal and off-diagonal disorders. The latter exhibits disorder-immune chiral symmetry -- the appearance of the eigenmodes in skew-symmetric pairs and the corresponding eigenvalues in opposite signs. When a disordered photonic lattice, an array of evanescently coupled waveguides, is illuminated with an extended coherent optical field, discrete speckle develops. Numerical simulations and analytical modeling reveal that discrete speckle shows a set of surprising features, that are qualitatively indistinguishable in both disorder classes. First, the fingerprint of transverse Anderson localization -- associated with disordered lattices, is exhibited in the narrowing of the spatial coherence function. Second, the transverse coherence length (or speckle grain size) freezes upon propagation. Third, the axial coherence depth is independent of the axial position, thereby resulting in a coherence voxel of fixed volume independently of position. When a single lattice site is coherently excited, I discovered that a thermalization gap emerges for light propagating in disordered lattices endowed with disorder-immune chiral symmetry. In these systems, the span of sub-thermal photon statistics is inaccessible to the input coherent light, which -- once the steady state is reached -- always emerges with super-thermal statistics no matter how small the disorder level. An independent constraint of the input field for the chiral symmetry to be activated and the gap to be observed is formulated. This unique feature enables a new form of photon-statistics interferometry: by exciting two lattice sites with a variable relative phase, as in a traditional two-path interferometer, the excitation-symmetry of the chiral mode pairs is judiciously broken and interferometric control over the photon statistics is exercised, spanning sub-thermal and super-thermal regimes. By considering an ensemble of disorder realizations, this phenomenon is demonstrated experimentally: a deterministic tuning of the intensity fluctuations while the mean intensity remains constant. Finally, I examined the statistics of the emerging light in two different lattice topologies: linear and ring lattices. I showed that the topology dictates the light statistics in the off-diagonal case: for even-sited ring and linear lattices, the electromagnetic field evolves into a single quadrature component, so that the field takes discrete phase values and is non-circular in the complex plane. As a consequence, the statistics become super-thermal. For odd-sited ring lattices, the field becomes random in both quadratures resulting in sub-thermal statistics. However, this effect is suppressed due to the transverse localization of light in lattices with high disorder. In the diagonal case, the lattice topology does not play a role and the transmitted field always acquires random components in both quadratures, hence the phase distribution is uniform in the steady state.


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Graduation Date





Saleh, Bahaa


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics; Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic