Abstract

An experimental study of the photo-isomerization dynamics in dye-doped nematic crystals is reported, which shows that, when the sample is illuminated by a Gaussian beam, and for high enough input power, a transition from the nematic to the isotropic phase takes place in the illuminated area. The two phases are spatially connected via a front propagating outward from the center of the beam and following the local intensity profile and thus inducing a photo-controlled optical aperture. The optical intensity and temperature fields on the sample follow the same dynamical profile. The front dynamics is described by a phenomenological bi-stable model with an inhomogeneous control parameter, directly related to the beam intensity profile.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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