Optical target and spiral patterns in a single-mirror feedback scheme

F. Huneus, B. Schäpers, T. Ackemann, W. Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Spatio-temporal structures with a regular time dependence are observed in a nonlinear optical system consisting of a sodium-vapour cell and a single feedback mirror. Target and spiral patterns appear spontaneously in the intensity of the transmitted light field as a result of a self-organisation process. In contrast to the results obtained in most other pattern-forming systems, the radial motion of the waves is directed towards the centre. The emergence of oscillatory structures is traced back to a Hopf bifurcation at a finite wave number. The preference for a radial drift motion is due to a nonlinear guiding effect which results from phase gradients created by the inhomogeneous pump profile. The direction of the drift can be reversed by externally applied phase gradients. The system is a striking example of a case in which the radial variation of the pump profile has a decisive influence on pattern formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-197
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physics B: Lasers and Optics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


  • nonlinear optical system
  • oscillatory structures
  • single feedback mirror


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