New class of instabilities in passive optical cavities

D. W. McLaughlin, J. V. Moloney, A. C. Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this Letter we show that the fixed points of the Ikeda map are more unstable to perturbations with a short-scale transverse structure than to plane-wave perturbations. We correctly predict the most unstable wavelength, the critical intensity, and the growth ratés of these disturbances. Our result establishes that, for a large class of nonlinear waves, spatial structure is inevitable and drastically alters the route to chaos. In an optical cavity the consequence is that the period-doubling cascade is an unlikely scenario for transition to optical chaos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-684
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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