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The origins of the nonlinear refractive indices of liquids and glasses


Owyoung, Adelbert (1972) The origins of the nonlinear refractive indices of liquids and glasses. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/E9HM-AK76.


Nonlinear refractive index changes in isotropic media are a consequence of two distinct types of mechanisms. An "electronic" mechanism arises from the nonlinear distortion of the electron orbits about the nuclei and a "nuclear" mechanism arises from an electric-field-induced change in the motions of nuclei.

A general treatment of nonlinear optical phenomena involving a polarization cubic in the electric field strength is given with the topic of nonlinear index changes treated as a special case. A central result of this theory is the following expression for the nonlinear polarization P3(t) in terms of the electric field E(t), the "electronic" parameter σ and the "nuclear response functions" a(t) and b(t):

P3(t) = σ-2 E(t)▪ E(t) E(t) + ∫ a(t-τ)E(τ)▪E(τ)dτ E(t)

+ ∫ b(t-τ)E(τ)▪E(t)E(τ)dτ

In the theory the relationship between these parameters and the nonlinear susceptibility tensor X3, is established. Several experiments in nonlinear optics are analyzed; in particular, it is shown that Kerr effect measurements lead to a determination of the quantity σ + β (where β = ʃ b(t)dt) whereas measurements of the intensity dependent rotation of the polarization ellipse of a monochromatic optical beam yield the quantity σ + 2β. Hence together these two techniques offer a means of uniquely determining both the "electronic" parameter a and the "nuclear" parameter β in any isotropic medium.

The nonlinear susceptibility element X31221 (-ω,ω,ω,-ω) = σ+2β/24 is calculated from ellipse rotation measurements in fused quartz, BK-7 borosilicate crown glass, and SF-7 dense flint glass giving values of 1.5, 2.3, and 9.9 x 10-15 esu at λ = 6943Å, respectively. These measurements constitute the first observations of ellipse rotation in any solid and (with an absolute accuracy of 11%) are the most accurately known of any nonlinear optical parameter in glasses.

Although the interpretation of these results along with Kerr, three-wave mixing, and third harmonic generation data nominally indicate that σ ˃˃ β for glasses, we hesitate to conclude that the nonlinear refractive indices in glasses are purely "electronic" in origin until the uncertainties in the latter measurements are reduced. If it is assumed however that electronic contributions are dominant, these experimental data would indicate that the nonlinear refractive index n2 for a linearly polarized beam in fused quartz, BK-7 glass, and SF-7 glass is 1.2, 1.7, and 6.9 x 10-13 esu respectively.

Parallel investigations of "ellipse rotation" in the symmetric molecule liquid CC14 show that X31221 (-ω,ω,ω,-ω) = 6.1 x 10-15 esu. This value when interpreted along with very accurate Kerr measurements indicate that the fractional electronic contribution to the Kerr constant of CC14 is given by σ/σ+β = 0.54 ± 0.17. Hence both electronic and nuclear contributions are significant to nonlinear refractive index changes in CC14.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Electrical Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Electrical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • George, Nicholas A.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:9 December 1971
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Ford FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Fairchild Camera and Instrument CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Air Force Office of Scientific ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06132016-142455107
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9873
Deposited On:14 Jun 2016 15:06
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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