optical phase conjugation
Optical phase conjugation
A process that involves the use of nonlinear optical effects to precisely reverse the direction of propagation of each plane wave in an arbitrary beam of light, thereby causing the return beam to exactly retrace the path of the incident beam. The process is also known as wavefront reversal or time-reversal reflection. The unique features of this phenomenon suggest widespread application to the problems of optical beam transport through distorting or inhomogeneous media. Although closely related, the field of adaptive optics will not be discussed here. See Adaptive optics
Optical phase conjugation is a process by which a light beam interacting in a nonlinear material is reflected in such a manner as to retrace its optical path. As the illustration shows, the image-transformation properties of this reflection are radically different from those of a conventional mirror. The incoming rays and those reflected by a conventional mirror (illus. a) are related by reversal of the component of the wave vector which is normal to the mirror surface. Thus a light beam can be arbitrarily redirected by adjusting the orientation of a conventional mirror. In contrast, a phase-conjugate reflector (illus. b) inverts the vector quantity so that, regardless of the orientation of the device, the reflected conjugate light beam exactly retraces the path of the incident beam. This retracing occurs even though an aberrator (such as a piece of broken glass) may be in the path of the incident beam. Looking into a conventional mirror, one would see one's own face, whereas looking into a phase-conjugate mirror, one would see only the pupil of the eye.
These new and remarkable image-transformation properties (even in the presence of a distorting optical element) open the door to many potential applications in areas such as laser fusion, atmospheric propagation, fiber-optic propagation, image restoration, real-time holography, optical data processing, nonlinear microscopy, laser resonator design, and high-resolution nonlinear spectroscopy. See Holography, Laser, Mirror optics, Nonlinear optics, Optical fibers