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Optical microcavities play a significant role in the study of classical and quantum chaos. To date, most experimental explorations of their internal wave dynamics have focused on the properties of their inputs and outputs, without directly interrogating the dynamics and the associated mode patterns inside. As a result, this key information is rarely retrieved with certainty, which significantly restricts the verification and understanding of the actual chaotic motion. Here we demonstrate a simple and robust approach to directly and rapidly map the internal mode patterns in chaotic microcavities. By introducing a local index perturbation through a pump laser, we report a spectral response of optical microcavities that is proportional to the internal field distribution. With this technique, chaotic modes with staggered mode spacings can be distinguished. Consequently, a complete chaos assisted tunneling (CAT) and its time-reversed process are experimentally verified in the optical domain with unprecedented certainty.


This work was originally published in Light: Science & Applications available at

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