Long metastable lifetimes in laser and related materials combined with a large index change makes possible large nonlinear optical effects using cw lasers. We describe experiments demonstrating such effects using the solid state laser material Cr:YAlO3, and we show how studies of the spectroscopy and kinetics can be used to understand the results. Since the same optical nonlinearity will affect the propagation of beams, it should be considered in the design of lasers.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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