Stimulated photorefractive phase conjugators often exhibit well-defined curved beam paths that cannot be explained by simple beam fanning. We propose a model of these apparently curved paths as a series of straight-line segments, with beams propagating in both directions along these segments. These line segments spring from the amplification of scattered light between regions of the crystal already containing counterpropagating pump beams. As these line segments form, they create new interaction regions that generate new segments, thereby making the final beam path appear to be curved. Application of our model to a single-interaction-region mutually pumped phase conjugator shows that the threshold coupling strength required for the appearance of these new segments is only slightly higher than the threshold for the phase conjugator itself.
© 1992 Optical Society of America
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