We have developed a theory for nondegenerate oscillations in optical resonators containing an intracavity phase-conjugate element. The phase-conjugate element consists of a nonlinear transparent medium that is pumped externally by a pair of counterpropagating laser beams of the same frequency and intensity. Phase conjugation of an input beam of slightly different frequency occurs because of nondegenerate four-wave mixing. The theory takes into account linear absorption (or gain) in the medium and is applied to study the threshold behavior of phase-conjugate oscillators. For the special case of no conventional mirrors, the phase-conjugate oscillator reduces to an ordinary phase-conjugate mirror, and our general formulation yields the results of previous studies. Our analysis shows that the parametric gain required for oscillation increases (or decreases) as a result of linear absorption (or gain) in the medium, and oscillation can occur at a frequency different from that of the pump beams in the presence of large linear gain (or loss). The effects of linear absorption (or gain) on the filter operation are also examined.
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