Since the first observation of optical bistability in 1976 (1), a large number of investigations of this phenomenon have appeared in the literature (2). Of particular theoretical interest has been the bistable system composed of “two-level” atoms within an optical resonator. While the theory in this case is well-advanced, only recently have experimental results been obtained (3–6). The work that we report is for absorptive bistability with an intracavity medium that approximates a collection of two-level atoms. We discuss our measurements of both the evolution of steady-state hysteresis and the slowing down of switching times using an inhomogeneously broadened medium in a standing-wave cavity. We also present results of the first observation of absorptive bistability in a predominantly homogeneously broadened medium of two-level atoms in a ring cavity.
KeywordsAtomic Beam Ring Cavity Switching Power Bistable System Optic Comm
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