Abstract

We present a theory of the stationary states of a laser with large optical anisotropies. This new, non-mean-field, vector model is based on an extension of our former mean-field model of the polarization states of quasi-isotropic lasers [ J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 9, 574 ( 1992)]. The latter is itself a vectorial extension of Lamb’s mean-field scalar theory of lasers [ Phys. Rev. A 134, 1429 ( 1964)]. The new model allows us to treat systems with large anisotropies and accounts more comprehensively than our former theory for the polarization competition between the gain medium and the bare cavity. A key feature of the new theory is the treatment of the problem of beam propagation in the nonlinear anisotropic gain medium. As an example, we consider several cases of a linear He–Ne laser operating at 3.39 μm. For small birefringences we justify the theory of quasi-isotropic lasers by showing that the modes predicted by both theories are nearly the same. Competition between the gain medium and the cavity is illustrated by the case of a laser containing two large birefringences. Limitations of the new theory are briefly discussed.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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