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Recent experiments demonstrating storage of optical pulses in acoustic phonons via stimulated Brillouin scattering raise questions about the spectral and temporal capacities of such protocols and the limitations of the theoretical frameworks routinely used to describe them. We consider the dynamics of photon–phonon scattering induced by optical pulses with temporal widths comparable to the period of acoustic oscillations. We revisit the widely adopted classical formalism of coupled modes and demonstrate its breakdown. We use a simple extension to the formulation and find potentially measurable consequences in the dynamics of Brillouin experiments involving ultrashort pulses.
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