Water suspension of light-absorbing nano-sized particles is an example of a medium in which non-linear effects are present at moderate light intensities favorable for optical treatment of organic and biological objects. We study experimentally the phenomena emerging in a thin layer of such a medium under the action of inhomogeneous light field formed due to the Pearcey diffraction pattern near a microlens focus. In this high-gradient field, the light energy absorbed by the particles induces inhomogeneous distribution of the medium refraction index, which results in observable self-diffraction of the incident light, here being strongly sensitive to the medium position with respect to the focus. This technique, based on the complex spatial structure of both the incident and the diffracted fields, can be employed for the detection and measurement of weak non-linearities.
Bibliographical noteThis paper was published in Optics Express and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?uri=oe-22-3-2267. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.
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