Time-Reversed Lasing and Interferometric Control of Absorption

In the time-reversed counterpart to laser emission, incident coherent optical fields are perfectly absorbed within a resonator that contains a loss medium instead of a gain medium. The incident fields and frequency must coincide with those of the corresponding laser with gain. We demonstrated this effect for two counter propagating incident fields in a silicon cavity, showing that absorption can be enhanced by two orders of magnitude, the maximum predicted by theory for our experimental setup. In addition, we showed that absorption can be reduced substantially by varying the relative phase of the incident fields. The device, termed a “coherent perfect absorber,” functions as an absorptive interferometer, with potential practical applications in integrated optics.