Abstract

Propagation of an externally focused or defocused Gaussian beam in a cubically nonlinear material is studied analytically and experimentally. The theoretical analysis is applied to determine the sign and magnitude of n2 for a material by means of a single-beam experiment with a finite nonlinear sample within which propagational diffraction cannot be neglected. Experimental results for a solution of chlorophyll in ethanol are reported. Based on available theory, an average n2 can be defined for a nonlinearity of thermal origin, and this value is found to be in good agreement with experimental results. Finally, the theoretical analysis and the experimental results of a double-beam experiment performed to determine the sign and magnitude of n2 are also presented.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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