Abstract

The mechanism for refractive-index changes that accompany changes in population during pumping and amplification of an optical beam is studied in a Nd:YAG laser crystal by both resonant four-wave mixing and interferometric techniques. It is found that these refractive-index changes (connected with the difference in polarizability of excited and unexcited Nd3+ ions) have two components: a small noninertial component that accompanies an amplified optical pulse and the major changes that are intensified with a delay time of ∼3 µs. The latter effect is explained by population (or depopulation) of a higher-lying energy level  2(F2)5/2 of the 4f electron shell of Nd3+ ions, which has large polarizability in near-IR and visible light. The real part of the nonlinear optical resonant susceptibility of the inverted Nd:YAG caused by the refractive-index changes is also discussed.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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