Pascal Kockaert, Professor
OPERA - Photonics Group - CP 194/05
Born in 1974 in Etterbeek, Brussels (Belgium), he graduated Civil Engineer in Physics from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1997. He then worked towards the PhD degree at the Optics and Acoustics Department of the Brussels School of Engineering at ULB thanks to a Doctoral fellowship of the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FRS-FNRS).
He got the PhD degree in Applied Physical Sciences in December 2000 by defending his thesis entitled "Dynamique non linéaire vectorielle de la propagation lumineuse en fibres optiques et caractérisation des phénomènes ultracourts associés" ("Nonlinear vector dynamics of light propagation in optical fibers and characterisation of the related ultrashort phenomena").
In October 2001, he got a Chargé de recherches fellowship from the FNRS. From November 2001 to December 2002, he was a visiting post-doctoral researcher in the Centre d’optique, photonique et laser (COPL) of Laval University in Québec, Canada, under the supervision of Pr Sophie LaRochelle. Thereafter, he was Research Fellow in the frame of the Interuniversity Attraction Pole Photon Network ».
He is now professor at the OPERA - Photonics Group at the ULB where he teaches laser physics , nonlinear optics and physics methods applied to Cultural Heritage. Since 2007 he is involved in the Interuniversity attraction pole « Photonics@be »
During my PhD I studied nonlinear optical propagation in which the vector nature of the electric ﬁeld plays an important role, such as vector soliton bound states, polarization modulational instability. Some works were analytical, others consisted in numerical simulations and experiments. I also investigated a new method to fully characterize trains of optical pulses.
I went in postdoctoral stay at Laval University (Canada), in the COPL (Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers), under the supervision of Prof. Sophie LaRochelle, were I fabricated and used Fiber Bragg Gratings. In particular, together with José Azaña from the McGill University, I proposed a new means to characterize optical trains of pulses by the use of stretched superimposed ﬁber Bragg gratings, that leaded to a patent.
After that, I contributed works about soliton propagation and their stability. Together with colleagues from ULB and VUB, we were among the very ﬁrst to investigate nonlinear optical propagation in left-handed metamaterials, and proposed a new cavity scheme in which a right- and a left-handed materials were combined in an externally driven spatially-extended optical resonator. We identiﬁed a zero-diﬀraction regime and investigated the nonlinear dynamics occuring in such cavities depending on the sign of the eﬀective diﬀraction. In order to verify the various theoretical predictions in cavities with negative diﬀraction, I proposed a way to build an eﬀective left-handed material with classical optical lenses. This way of proceeding has been implemented at the Lille university, and it proved to be successfull. In parallel to these works on spatial solitons, I contributed to the ﬁrst experimental demonstration of the temporal cavity soliton, and to the analytical description of the interesting dynamical features of a double-pass cavity, which are based on a new kind of incoherent nonlinear optical feedback.
These last years, I also devoted part of my scientiﬁc activities to experimental characterization of the nonlinear optical properties of some materials, including various kinds of quantum dots and graphene, and to lasing in liquid crystal cells, namely through the direction and co-direction of three Master thesis. Two PhD students are now working on these topics, with the support of a FRIA grant.