Photonics and the Nobel Prize in Physics – News and Views on Nature Photonics

ISC director, Prof. Claudio Conti and Prof. Eugenio Del Re  share their thoughts on  the role of  photonics experiments in the development of complex systems and spin glass theory. Read the full story  on Nature Photonics News and Views.

Photonics and the Nobel Prize in Physics
Giorgio Parisi recently shared a Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to the theory of complex systems. What is not well known is that photonics was crucial to validating Parisi’s predictions.

Intensity distribution and spectrum of identical random laser experiments. Fluctuations erratically drive the systems through numerous competing states in the ‘energy landscape’


In nonlinear optical beam propagation, above a threshold nonlinearity the output intensity distribution undergoes a transition to a strongly fluctuating regime.












In both cases the observed statistical distribution P(q) of the Parisi overlap shows a signature transition to a double-peaked shape demonstrating replica symmetry breaking.


Mesured distribution of Parisi overlap in a random laser (left panels) and in non-linear optical beam propagation (right panels).