Instability and chaos of counterpropagating beams in a nonlinear medium.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe dynamical behavior of counterpropagating light waves interacting with a nonlinear medium is studied numerically. It is found that the wave and the medium form a system that becomes unstable under certain conditions and exhibits self-oscillation. Because the interacting medium is modeled by an ensemble of two-level systems, we recognize the self-oscillation frequency as the Rabi-frequency of the constituent systems. The physical mechanisms responsible for this self-oscillation are the gain and the distributed feedback of the combined lightwave-medium system. When the environment changes, in particular when the intensity is increased, this system becomes more unstable and we find that the oscillation exhibits more complex behavior, including quasi-periodic motion and chaos. We analyze the output fields by using Fourier spectra, phase portraits, and autocorrelation functions. In the chaotic regime, the Lyapunov exponents and dimensions are also calculated. A physical interpretation of the quasiperiodic motion is given by an exact calculation of the absorption spectrum of our two-level medium. The negative absorption (gain) peaks are found at the frequencies of the quasi-periodic motions, thus implying that the gain of the combined light-medium system is responsible at least in part for the observed complex behavior. In addition, we investigate the stability of the propagating plane wave when a transverse wave is added to the system as a perturbation. Instabilities are analyzed by linearizing the nonlinear equations which model the lightwave-medium system. The results show that the instability is highly-correlated with the four-wave mixing phase conjugation.