Abstract

We present a simple, analytically tractable, generalized aperture model for treating the stripping of a laser beam in a medium with saturable absorption. The model departs from previous treatments in allowing a soft transition from transparency to opacity, which yields a physically realistic diffraction-free amplitude encoding for the laser beam and thereby reduces unphysical fringes in subsequent beam evolution. The model is applied to the problem of cw exactly resonant self-focusing in a vapor of two-state atoms. It is confirmed that for strong beam saturation and absorption that is not too strong, beam propagation can be well modeled as a single stripping–diffraction sequence. A simple interpretation of the on-axis enhancement features is given.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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