Abstract

We report the observation of bistability and hysteresis in a dye laser at low excitation when the pump power is varied slowly in the neighborhood of the oscillation threshold. We also find that the laser exhibits an unusual memory effect lasting several minutes if the pump beam is blocked and unblocked, in that the laser then returns to the original on or off branch of the hysteresis cycle. By contrast the laser remains off if the dye-laser beam is blocked briefly and then unblocked. A possible explanation in terms of thermally induced desorption of moisture upon a multilayer mirror is discussed.

© 1989 Optical Society of America

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