We have studied the transverse modes of a transient stimulated Raman signal generated in unsaturated Raman amplifiers with Fresnel numbers from one to seven, both with and without a seed Stokes pulse. In the absence of a seed Stokes pulse and for a pump Fresnel number greater than 1.5, the spatial intensity pattern of the stimulated Stokes signal is highly variable from shot to shot, reflecting the random nature of the quantum-noise source. However, when a separately generated and sufficiently strong seed Stokes pulse with a Gaussian spatial profile is injected into the amplifier, the spatial mode of the output Stokes beam assumes a smooth Gaussian spatial pattern that is significantly smaller in diameter than either the pump or the seed Stokes beam. This spatial mode control, which is due to the injected Stokes signal, persists down to a level of approximately 300 seed Stokes photons per spatial mode and, surprisingly, is observed to suppress the noise-initiated signal by at least a factor of 10 in the outer regions of the amplified Stokes beam. We have also studied the Stokes pulse-energy statistics over a range of Fresnel numbers. Data taken with systems having Fresnel numbers between 4 and 7 follow the same pattern as the spatial-mode-control results in that the statistical character of the Stokes pulse energies changes rapidly from that characteristic of a quantum-noise-initiated process to one characteristic of a stable source as the level of the injected seed Stokes is increased. However, for interaction regions with Fresnel numbers of 1 or smaller, the Stokes pulse-energy statistics show a gradual change as the level of the seed Stokes signal is increased and do not become stabilized until the seed Stokes is more than 100 times the total level needed to control the spatial character of the output Stokes in the larger-Fresnel-number cases. This slow change in the statistics for the Fresnel 1 system, and the suppression of the quantum-noise-initiated signal in the larger-Fresnel-number systems, is not fully understood at this time.
© 1990 Optical Society of AmericaFull Article | PDF Article