Abstract

It is shown theoretically that optical bistability will exist in a material whose optical absorption is more than linearly proportional to the degree to which the material is excited. No cavity or external feedback is required. The underlying principle of this bistability appears to be a generalization of several previous independent discussions of mirrorless bistabilities in specific physical systems. This bistability and associated differential gain are demonstrated experimentally using a thermal nonlinearity in a GaAs/GaAlAs multiple-quantum-well semiconductor. Theory and experiment show good agreement.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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