This paper presents the experimental and theoretical results of a study of the interaction of pulsed laser radiation with thick composite media containing nanoparticles of vanadium dioxide (VO2). It establishes that the reversible semiconductor-metal phase transition that occurs in VO2 nanoparticles under the action of radiation can produce self-defocusing of radiation in the visible and near-IR regions because of the formation of a photoinduced dynamic lens. An analysis is carried out of how the radiation intensity affects the dynamics of these processes. It is shown that photoinduced absorption and scattering play a role in forming the nonlinear optical response. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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