By means of an exact solution, we demonstrate that a Gaussian beam can undergo spatial compression when it traverses a photorefractive medium. This is possible provided that the external bias field exceeds the critical value necessary to establish photorefractive spatial solitons. In this regime and under paraxial assumptions our analysis indicates that a Gaussian beam tends to exhibit self-focusing collapse. Beam self-deflection effects that arise from the π/2-phase-shifted component of the photorefractive grating are also considered in our study.
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