Mode-locked lasers emitting ultrashort pulses have expanded the range of available instruments and techniques to the scientific community. The unique properties of these ultrashort pulses - their high peak powers and short duration - enable such diverse applications as multiphoton microscopy, pump-probe experiments, and coherent control of molecular and atomic wavepackets, to name a few. Ultrashort pulses can also be used as a basis for ultrahigh data rate optical communications using time division multiplexing (TDM) in a fiber communication application. These ultrafast applications often require complementary real-time optical processors based on instantaneous nonlinear phenomena, since conventional electronic means are limited by the response time of electronic devices.
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