We have very little experience of the quantum dynamics of the ubiquitous nonlinear waves. Observed phenomena in high energy physics are perturbations to linear waves, and classical nonlinear waves, like solitons, are barely affected by quantum effects. We know that solitons, immutable in classical physics, exhibit collapse and revivals according to quantum mechanics. However this effect is very weak and has never been observed experimentally. By predicting black hole evaporation Hawking first introduced a distinctly quantum effect in nonlinear gravitational physics.Here we show the existence of a general and universal quantum process whereby a soliton emits quantum radiation with a specific frequency content, and a temperature given by the number of quanta, the soliton Schwarzschild radius, and the amount of nonlinearity, in a precise and surprisingly simple way. This result may ultimately lead to the first experimental evidence of genuine quantum black hole evaporation. In addition, our results show that black hole radiation occurs in a fully quantised theory, at variance with the common approach based on quantum field theory in a curved background; this may provide insights into quantum gravity theories. Our findings also have relevance to the entire field of nonlinear waves, including cold atomic gases and extreme phenomena such as shocks and rogue-waves. Finally, the predicted effect may potentially be exploited for novel tunable quantum light sources.

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