Nonlinear optical pulse propagation in molecular media

Yehuda B. Band, Raanan Bavli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We model the response of a molecular medium to an intense pulse of light. We begin by reducing the Maxwell-Bloch equations for a multilevel molecular model system to a set of simplified propagation equations. We thereby obtain expressions for the frequency, temperature, and field intensity dependence of the ground and excited electronic state absorption cross sections, and the emission cross section, as well as the temperature dependence of the decay rate of the excited state. The phenomena of saturation, excited-state absorption, optically induced dichroism and birefringence, vibronic energy transfer, induced molecular alignment, decay of the matter-field interaction energy, and rotational diffusion are considered within the general formalism for describing the propagation of an intense pulse of light in the molecular medium. We find that the cross section for absorption (emission) of a photon is not identical to the cross section for molecular excitation (deexcitation) via the matter-field interaction. This is explained in terms of an energy balance between the matter, radiation, the matter-radiation interaction, and the bath responsible for the broadening of the molecular transitions. The inequality of these cross sections determines whether the system supplies or draws energy from the thermal bath. The rise in the vibrational temperature of molecules subjected to an intense short pulse is shown to significantly affect propagation of the pulse. The alignment of the molecular system resulting from saturation of the ground-state transition by a polarized laser pulse and the effects of the orientational dependence of the matter-field interaction including effects of rotational diffusion are determined. As an example of the formalism we consider pulse propagation in a Rhodamine 6G solution. We fit the parameters of the model to determine the frequency dependence of the ground- and excited-state absorption cross sections and the emission cross section and compare with experimentally determined cross sections. We describe the propagation of a pulse whose temporal width is comparable to the rotational diffusion time of the molecules in the dye solution and calculate polarization pulse probe signals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3203-3217
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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