The interaction of polarized laser beams and sodium vapor can lead to a variety of intensity and polarization patterns owing to optical-pumping-induced refractive-index variations along and transverse to the beam-propagation direction. While the steady-state behavior has been observed and described in the past, the modeling of the dynamics of the pattern formation processes has become possible only recently. We present the first, to our knowledge, three-dimensional simulations of the dynamics of beam bouncing, beam switching, and beam splitting and the deflection of a laser beam by the inhomogeneous magnetic field of a current-carrying wire. Numerical algorithms used for the calculations and experimental aspects for future observations are discussed.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
S. Dangel and R. Holzner, "Dynamics of light-pattern formation of polarized laser beams propagating through sodium vapor," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15, 594-606 (1998)