One of the typical methods to generate the phase-conjugate beam is four-wave mixing with a photorefractive crystal. It is known that the phase-conjugate reflectivity shows the bistability in some cases. Analyzing the temporal property of four-wave mixing, we offer a new method to control the bistable phase-conjugate reflectivity, and we perform an experiment of the bistability control by the method. An equation to obtain the threshold value of the coupling strength for showing the bistability is derived by a steady-state analysis of four-wave mixing, and the temporal property of four-wave mixing is studied with two different initial conditions that are used for letting the phase-conjugate reflectivity converge to an off state or to an on state The initial condition for the converging off state is that the forward pump beam is turned off throughout. The condition for the converging on state is that the forward pump beam is turned on in advance, and after enough time passes, it is turned off. In both conditions, the backward pump beam and the probe beam continue to illuminate throughout. Whereas both optical arrangements are equivalent after setting up these initial conditions, each phase-conjugate reflectivity converges to different stationary values, and Besides, an experiment is performed and we actually control the bistability by this method. Furthermore, the temporal and the spatial variation of the refractive-index grating in the photorefractive crystal is investigated, and the process of the bistability is explained.
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