Optical bistability (OB) can be defined as the existence of two stable states for one set of optical input conditions. It can be seen in many different systems which generally combine some microscopic nonlinearity (e.g., intensity-dependent refractive index) with some macroscopic feedback (e.g., a Fabry-Perot cavity). OB shows not only hysteresis but also switching transitions. By adjusting the degree of feedback various related effects are also possible (e.g., optical limiters, optical transistors, and several kinds of oscillation phenomena).

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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