We demonstrate an all-optical bump-on-tail instability by considering the nonlinear interaction of two partially coherent spatial beams. For weak wave coupling, we observe momentum transfer with no variation in intensity. For strong wave coupling, modulations appear in intensity and evidence appears for wave (Langmuir) collapse at large scales. Borrowing plasma language, these limits represent regimes of weak and strong spatial optical turbulence. In both limits, the internal spectral energy redistribution is observed by recording and reconstructing a hologram of the evolving dynamics. The results are universal and can appear in any wave-kinetic system with short-wave-long-wave coupling.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Physics and Astronomy