A. Dreischuh, G. G. Paulus, F. Zacher, F. Grasbon, D. Neshev, H. Walther
We present a linear analysis and numerical simulations of the instability of optical vortex solitons (OVSs) of arbitrary topological charge. They show a rich variety of instability scenarios depending on the type of perturbation. The saturation of the nonlinearity is shown to be able to slow down the decay of multiple charged dark beams at an intermediate evolution stage and to prevent their ultimate decay into charge-one OVSs. This concept is experimentally verified by the observation of a partial decay of a triple-charged OV beam and by comparing this dynamic with the behavior of OV beams of topological charges m=1, 2, 3, and 4.