Abstract

The paraxial wave equation, as is well known, predicts the catastrophic collapse of self-focusing beams. It is pointed out that this collapse is due to the loss of validity of the paraxial wave equation in the neighborhood of a self-focus. If nonparaxiality of the beam propagation is taken into account, on the other hand, a lower limit of the order of one optical wavelength is imposed on the diameter of a self-focus. A nonparaxial algorithm for the Helmholtz equation is applied to the self-focusing of Gaussian and ring-shaped beams. The self-focusing is noncatastrophic, and the results give insight into filament formation and beam breakup resulting from the self-focusing of optical beams.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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