Numerical solution of the nonlinear Helmholtz equation using nonorthogonal expansions

G. Fibich, S. Tsynkov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In [J. Comput. Phys. 171 (2001) 632-677] we developed a fourth-order numerical method for solving the nonlinear Helmholtz equation which governs the propagation of time-harmonic laser beams in media with a Kerr-type nonlinearity. A key element of the algorithm was a new nonlocal two-way artificial boundary condition (ABC), set in the direction of beam propagation. This two-way ABC provided for reflectionless propagation of the outgoing waves while also fully transmitting the given incoming beam at the boundaries of the computational domain. Altogether, the algorithm of [J. Comput. Phys. 171 (2001) 632-677] has allowed for a direct simulation of nonlinear self-focusing without neglecting nonparaxial effects and backscattering. To the best of our knowledge, this capacity has never been achieved previously in nonlinear optics. In the current paper, we propose an improved version of the algorithm. The principal innovation is that instead of using the Dirichlet boundary conditions in the direction orthogonal to that of the laser beam propagation, we now introduce Sommerfeld-type local radiation boundary conditions, which are constructed directly in the discrete framework. Numerically, implementation of the Sommerfeld conditions requires evaluation of eigenvalues and eigenvectors for a non-Hermitian matrix. Subsequently, the separation of variables, which is a key building block of the aforementioned nonlocal ABC, is implemented through an expansion with respect to the nonorthogonal basis of the eigenvectors. Numerical simulations show that the new algorithm offers a considerable improvement in its numerical performance, as well as in the range of physical phenomena that it is capable of simulating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-224
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2005


FundersFunder number
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation


    • Backscattering
    • Counter-propagation
    • Critical and subcritical nonlinearity
    • Diffraction
    • Fourth-order approximation
    • Intense laser light
    • Iterative solution
    • Kerr media
    • Nonlinear self-focusing
    • Nonlocal artificial boundary conditions (ABCs)
    • Nonparaxiality
    • Separation of variables
    • Solitary waves
    • Sommerfeld radiation boundary conditions


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