Propagation of the electromagnetic field in optical-limiting reverse-saturable absorbers

S. Kim, D. McLaughlin, M. Potasek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reverse-saturable absorbers are of considerable interest for optical limiting. Using the electric dipole perturbation, we derived the rate equation for a five-level system describing reverse-saturable absorbers. Traditional theories for the propagating laser beam in these materials are expressed in terms of the optical intensity. However, with the introduction of high-power short-pulsed lasers, the propagation of light in these materials may be subject to nonlinear phenomena such as self-focusing and self-phase modulation. Furthermore, conventional theories treat the laser light as a continuous wave or as a very broad temporal pulse in which dispersive effects are neglected. In order to incorporate these other nonlinear or dispersive effects, and therefore determine their influence in reverse-saturable absorbers, we derived an equation for the propagation of the electromagnetic field, rather than the intensity, coupled to the rate equations for a five-level system. We also coupled our theory to experimentally measurable parameters for these materials and detailed the various physical approximations used to obtain the rate equations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025801
Pages (from-to)258011-258014
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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