When in our recorded history did first nonlinear optics appear?

I am more interested in the first recorded use of nonlinear crystals.


1 Answer 1


University of Michigan Physics Department -Nonlinear Optics 50th Anniversary Symposium was held on Octber 26, 2011. Peter Franken had focused a ruby laser on a quartz crystal in 1961.

This was the first case of second harmonic generation in the optical regime, a material response to high intensity light. However, important nonlinear effects had been discovered much earlier: the Kerr effect in 1874.

Polarization effects were known to prior to Newton's work on optics, based on Iceland spar, in the mid-1600s, but these are explainable with linear optics. There is no intensity dependence.

But the research field of nonlinear optics begins the year after lasers: 1961.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Thats the modern high energy nonlinear effect. The nonlinear crystals should have been known in 1700s. $\endgroup$
    – Anonymous
    May 26, 2016 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ See the additional reference to iceland spar. I work with non-linear crystals everyday, and do non-linear optics. Perhaps you can update your question to be more specific. $\endgroup$ May 26, 2016 at 18:56

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