Abstract

Formation of hyperbolic umbilic caustics is observed experimentally in the far-field zone as a result of self- and mutual-phase modulation of laser beams by means of competing reorientation of a nematic liquid crystal. The interference pattern reveals maximum response for an unusually small (≈5°) angle of light refraction into the cell. It is thus demonstrated that higher-order diffraction catastrophes can be induced and controlled by nonlinear optical processes.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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