Abstract

Spatiotemporal instabilities of a single-feedback-mirror device are investigated with the help of the linear stability analysis of the stationary regime for a saturable medium that has a complex nonlinear susceptibility; the outcome is compared with experimental results. The first striking result of the analysis is the occurrence of an oscillation with a period nearly twice the round-trip time, regardless of its value with respect to the atomic linewidth for given physical situations, when only longitudinal grating effects are considered. This result cannot be interpreted as a pure phase-conjugate resonator operation, which is expected to occur only when transverse grating effects are included. When such effects are included, the second striking feature is the prediction of the spontaneous breaking of the revolution symmetry; symmetry is broken by rotating light spots, with an instability threshold that depends on the number of spots; this prediction agrees with experiment.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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