Modifications of a speckle pattern as a result of nonlinear interaction with cubic photorefractive crystal under an alternating applied field is investigated, experimentally and numerically. It is shown that the speckle pattern suffers a strong modification owing to polarization self-modulation and scattering by photoinduced crystal inhomogeneities. The spatial spectrum of the speckle field noticeably broadens when light passing the crystal. Thus the average size of speckle inhomogeneities decreases enhancing the sensitivity of vibration or displacement sensing schemes with photorefractive crystals. It is demonstrated that the speckle pattern modification is more considerable when the average size of input speckle field inhomogeneities is approximately equal to the drift length of charge carriers.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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