Abstract

We show that standard approximations in nonlinear optics are violated for situations involving a small value of the linear refractive index. Consequently, the conventional equation for the intensity-dependent refractive index, n(I)=n0+n2I, becomes inapplicable in epsilon-near-zero and low-index media, even in the presence of only third-order effects. For the particular case of indium tin oxide, we find that the χ(3), χ(5), and χ(7) contributions to refraction eclipse the linear term; thus, the nonlinear response can no longer be interpreted as a perturbation in these materials. Although the response is non-perturbative, we find no evidence that the power series expansion of the material polarization diverges.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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