Strictly speaking, a system is said to exhibit optical bistability if it has two steady-state output intensities for the same value of the input intensity over some range of input values. During the '80s, optical bistability was often interpreted more broadly to include all of the steady-state and transient characteristics of nonlinear optical systems that exhibit bistability under some operating conditions. Thus, the topical meetings1-5 on optical bistability and the only single-author text6 on the subject addressed many aspects of the physics of bistable systems, including instabilities (transient phenomena with constant input) and optical switching (controlling light with light).
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