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Optical instabilities in sodium vapor

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Abstract

We present here instabilities observed in the transverse profile of a continuous-wave light beam that crosses a sample of sodium vapor twice by means of a feedback mirror. The wave front and the intensity of the beam are spatially modulated by the intensity-dependent dispersive and absorptive action of the vapor. Experimental evidence indicates that the vapor acts as a phase-conjugate mirror, thus providing an active cavity when it is coupled with the feedback mirror. The instabilities develop as a consequence of sideband generation at the resonant modes of this cavity. The transverse-mode profiles of these sidebands are analyzed experimentally.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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