Spatial coherence of light inside three dimensional media


Authors: MarcoLeonetti, Lorenzo Pattelli, Simone De Panfilis, Diederik S. Wiersma, and Giancarlo Ruocco

Nature Communications, 12, Article number: 4199 (2021) Published: 07 July 2021

Abstract: Speckle is maybe the most fundamental interference effect of light in disordered media, giving rise to fascinating physical phenomena and cutting edge applications. While speckle formed outside a sample is easily measured and analysed, true bulk speckle, as formed inside random media, is difficult to investigate directly due to the obvious issue of physical access. Furthermore, its proper theoretical description poses enormous challenges. Here we report on the first direct measurements of spatially resolved intensity correlations of light inside a disordered medium, using embedded DNA strings decorated with emitters separated by a controlled nanometric distance. Our method provides in situ access to fundamental properties of bulk speckles as their size and polarization degrees of freedom, both of which are found to deviate significantly from theoretical predictions. The deviations are explained, by comparison with rigorous numerical calculations, in terms of correlations among polarization components and non-universal near-field contributions at the nanoscale.