Abstract

An analytic model based on a single encoding–diffraction sequence is developed to describe the first main region of focusing that occurs when a cw off-resonant monochromatic Gaussian beam enters a medium of two-state atoms. A quantitative definition of the dispersive regime for self-focusing is given, and an explicit form is obtained for the field encoding produced by the initial propagation. The phase profile of this encoded field incorporates the effects of both the medium and diffraction, and we find a simple expression for the fundamental length scale, which determines where diffractive effects become dominant. An analytic expression is obtained for the on-axis field, which results once the encoded field begins to diffract freely, and simple expressions for the position and size of the main enhancement are given. We give a simple interpretation of the focusing and the two parameters required for its characterization. The model gives excellent agreement to the full numeric solution over a wide parameter range and, in particular, explains the rapid on-axis oscillations at the outset of focusing.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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