We develop a generalized version of the invariant imbedding method, which allows us to solve the electromagnetic wave equations in arbitrarily inhomogeneous stratified media where both the dielectric permittivity and magnetic permeability depend on the strengths of the electric and magnetic fields, in a numerically accurate and efficient manner. We apply our method to a uniform nonlinear slab and find that in the presence of strong external radiation, an initially uniform medium of positive refractive index can spontaneously change into a highly inhomogeneous medium where regions of positive or negative refractive index as well as metallic regions appear. We also study the wave transmission properties of periodic nonlinear media and the influence of nonlinearity on the mode conversion phenomena in inhomogeneous plasmas. We argue that our theory is very useful in the study of the optical properties of a variety of nonlinear media including nonlinear negative index media fabricated using wires and split-ring resonators.
© 2008 Optical Society of America
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