To date, all experiments in nonlinear statistical optics have relied on beams whose transverse spatial statistics were Gaussian. Here, we present a new technique to generalize these studies by using a spatial light modulator to create spatially incoherent beams with arbitrary spectral distributions. As a specific example of the new dynamics possible, we consider the spatial modulation instability of a partially coherent beam. We show that, for statistical beams of uniform intensity and equal correlation length, the underlying spectral shape determines the threshold and visibility of intensity modulations as well as the spectral profile of the growing sidebands. We demonstrate the behavior using statistical light, but the results will hold for any wave-kinetic system, such as plasma, ultracold gases, and turbulent acoustic waves.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)