A theoretical explanation of nonvolatile holographic recording in LiNbO<sub>3</sub>:Fe:Mn crystals is given based on jointly solving the two-center material equations and the coupled-wave equations. The nonuniformity of the dynamics of the photorefractive grating can be effectively described and analyzed by using this method. The time–space evolution, including the space-charge field, the diffraction efficiency, the light modulation depth, the phases of the space-charge field and the interference field, as well as the relative spatial phase shift between them, is studied for both oxidized and reduced crystals. The optimal conditions for material prescriptions and oxidation–reduction processing are discussed in detail. The bending isophase of the fringe pattern and the redistributed intensities of the two-coupled beams inside the crystal are presented. The theoretical results can confirm and predict experimental results. Some new effects are also discovered, such as: The fixed diffraction efficiency can exceed the saturation diffraction efficiency for strongly recorded gratings; the energy transfer direction between two-coupled beams can be reversed with crystal thickness; and the holographic readout in reduced crystal is always accompanied by fast phase changes, which results in the slow deterioration of the recorded holograms as a result of the production of homogeneous distributions of electrons.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
(050.7330) Diffraction and gratings : Volume gratings
(090.2900) Holography : Optical storage materials
(090.7330) Holography : Volume gratings
(160.2900) Materials : Optical storage materials
(210.2860) Optical data storage : Holographic and volume memories
Liyong Ren, Liren Liu, De'an Liu, Jifeng Zu, and Zhu Luan, "Recording and fixing dynamics of nonvolatile photorefractive holograms in LiNbO3 :Fe:Mn crystals," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 20, 2162-2173 (2003)