Abstract

The close relation between the processes of paraxial diffraction and coherent diffusion is reflected in the similarity between their shape-preserving solutions, notably the Gaussian modes. Differences between these solutions enter only for high-order modes. Here we experimentally study the behavior of shape-preserving high-order modes of coherent diffusion, known as “elegant” modes, and contrast them with the nonshape-preserving evolution of the corresponding “standard” modes of optical diffraction. Diffusion of the light field is obtained by mapping it onto the atomic coherence field of a diffusing vapor in a storage-of-light setup. The growth of the elegant mode fits well the theoretical expectations.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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