Recoil-induced effects in absorptive optical bistability

R. Bonifacio, B. W. J. McNeil, N. Piovella, G. R. M. Robb

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We present an analysis of absorptive optical bistability in a system of cold atoms enclosed in a bidirectional ring cavity. This analysis is carried out using a system of equations that extends the so-called Maxwell-Bloch model to self-consistently include atomic center-of-mass motion. The analysis predicts an instability resulting in the simultaneous generation of an atomic density grating and a coherently backscattered radiation field. The formation of the density grating arises from a modulation of the radiation pressure forces exerted on the atoms. A consequence of this instability is that the lower transmission branch of the usual bistability curve, where atomic motion is neglected, can become unstable and the system switches to the upper transmission branch destroying the bistability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number023807
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2000


  • atoms
  • optics
  • radiation
  • bistability

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