The explanation of wave behavior upon total internal reflection from a gainy medium has defied consensus for 40 years. We examine this question using both the finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method and theoretical analyses. FDTD simulations of a localized wave impinging on a gainy half space are based directly on Maxwell’s equations and make no underlying assumptions. They reveal that amplification occurs upon total internal reflection from a gainy medium; conversely, amplification does not occur for incidence below the critical angle. Excellent agreement is obtained between the FDTD results and an analytical formulation that employs a new branch cut in the complex “propagation-constant” plane.
©2008 Optical Society of America
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