The modulational instability (MI) of plane waves in nonlocal Kerr media is studied for a general response function. Several generic properties are proven mathematically, with emphasis on how new gain bands are formed through a bifurcation process when the degree of nonlocality, sigma, passes certain bifurcation values and how the bandwidth and maximum of each individual gain band depends on sigma. The generic properties of the MI gain spectrum, including the bifurcation phenomena, are then demonstrated for the exponential and rectangular response functions. For a focusing nonlinearity the nonlocality tends to suppress MI, but can never remove it completely, irrespectively of the shape of the response function. For a defocusing nonlinearity the stability properties depend sensitively on the profile of the response function. For response functions with a positive-definite spectrum, such as Gaussians and exponentials, plane waves are always stable, whereas response functions with spectra that are not positive definite (such as the rectangular) will lead to MI if sigma exceeds a certain threshold. For the square response function, in both the focusing and defocusing case, we show analytically and numerically how new gain bands that form at higher wave numbers when sigma increases will eventually dominate the existing gain bands at lower wave numbers and abruptly change the length scale of the periodic pattern that may be observed in experiments.
Physical Review E. Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, 2002, Vol 66, Issue 6