Thin films of Bi were grown by pulsed laser deposition on glass substrates at room temperature. The thickness and roughness of the films were characterized by grazing-incidence x-ray reflectivity, and the complex refractive indices were measured in the range from 1.5 to 4 eV by spectroscopic ellipsometry. We performed Z-scan measurements to study the third-order optical nonlinearity of the films. It was found that the Bi films exhibited an unusually large nonlinear refractive coefficient, n<sub>I</sub>~1.24×10<sup>-1</sup> cm<sup>2</sup>/kW and nonlinear absorption coefficient, α<sub>I</sub>~-3.97 cm/W , at low laser intensity, ~60 kW/cm<sup>2</sup> . This anomaly is believed to have an origin related to melting of the Bi films at the focus spot by the laser beam.
© 2002 Optical Society of America
(190.3270) Nonlinear optics : Kerr effect
(190.4400) Nonlinear optics : Nonlinear optics, materials
(190.4720) Nonlinear optics : Optical nonlinearities of condensed matter
(190.4870) Nonlinear optics : Photothermal effects
(310.6860) Thin films : Thin films, optical properties
D. R. Liu, K. S. Wu, M. F. Shih, and M. Y. Chern, "Giant nonlinear optical properties of bismuth thin films grown by pulsed laser deposition," Opt. Lett. 27, 1549-1551 (2002)