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Spie Press Book

Field Guide to Lasers
Author(s): Rüdiger Paschotta
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Book Description

This Field Guide provides an overview on the essential types of lasers and their key properties, as well as an introduction into the most important physical and technological aspects of lasers. Apart from describing the basic principles (such as stimulated emission and the properties of optical resonators), this Guide discusses the numerous important properties of laser crystals, the impact of thermal effects on laser performance, methods of wavelength tuning and pulse generation, and laser noise. Practitioners will also gain valuable insight from remarks on laser safety and obtain new ideas about how to make the laser development process more efficient.

Book Details

Date Published: 15 January 2008
Pages: 152
ISBN: 9780819469618
Volume: FG12

Table of Contents
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Glossary of Symbols xi
Basic Principles of Lasers 1
Principle of a Laser 1
Spontaneous and Stimulated Emission 2
Optical Pumping: Three- and Four-Level Systems 3
Cross Sections and Level Lifetimes 4
Transition Bandwidths 5
Calculating Laser Gain 6
Gain Saturation 7
Homogeneous vs. Inhomogeneous Saturation 9
Spatial Hole Burning 10
Threshold and Slope Efficiency 11
Power Efficiency 13
Amplified Spontaneous Emission 14
Characteristics of Laser Light 15
Laser Beams 16
Temporal Coherence of Laser Radiation 16
Spatial Coherence 17
Gaussian Beams 18
Laser Beam Quality 20
Brightness or Radiance of Laser Beams 21
Optical Resonators 22
Basic Structure of an Optical Resonator 22
Resonator Modes 23
Resonance Frequencies 24
Bandwidth and Finesse of a Resonator 25
Stability Zones of a Resonator 26
Unstable Resonators 27
Resonator Design 28
Waveguides 29
Principle of Waveguiding 29
Waveguide Modes 30
Optical Fibers 31
Planar and Channel Waveguides 32
Semiconductor Lasers 33
Semiconductor Lasers 33
Light Amplification in Semiconductors 34
Low-Power Edge-Emitting Laser Diodes 35
External-Cavity Diode Lasers 36
Broad-Area Laser Diodes 37
Diode Bars 38
Diode Stacks 39
Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers 40
Vertical-External-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers 41
Fiber-Coupled Diode Lasers 42
Quantum Cascade Lasers 44
Solid-State Bulk Lasers 45
Solid-State Bulk Lasers 45
Rare-Earth-Doped Gain Media 46
Transition-Metal-Doped Gain Media 47
Properties of Host Crystals 48
Effective Cross Sections 49
Phonon Effects in Solid-State Gain Media 50
Quasi-Three-Level Laser Transitions 51
Lamp Pumping vs. Diode Pumping 52
Side Pumping vs. End Pumping 54
Linear vs. Ring Laser Resonators 55
Thermal Effects in Laser Crystals and Glasses 56
Rod Lasers 58
Slab Lasers 59
Thin-Disk Lasers 61
Monolithic Lasers and Microchip Lasers 62
Composite Laser Gain Media 63
Cryogenic Lasers 64
Beam Quality of Solid-State Lasers 65
Fiber and Waveguide Lasers 67
Fiber and Waveguide Lasers 67
Rare-Earth-Doped Fibers 68
Types of Fiber Laser Resonators 69
DBR and DFB Fiber Lasers 70
Double-Clad High-Power Fiber Devices 71
Polarization Issues 73
Other Waveguide Lasers 74
Upconversion Fiber Lasers 75
Dye Lasers 76
Gas Lasers 77
Gas Lasers 77
Helium-Neon Lasers 78
Argon-Ion Lasers 79
Carbon-Dioxide Lasers 80
Excimer Lasers 81
Other Types of Lasers 82
Raman Lasers 82
Free-Electron Lasers 83
Chemically and Nuclear Pumped Lasers 84
Narrow-Linewidth Operation 85
Single-Mode vs. Multimode Operation 85
Intracavity Etalons and Other Filters 87
Examples for Single-Frequency Lasers 89
Injection Locking 90
Tunable Lasers 91
Principles of Wavelength Tuning 91
Tunable Diode Lasers 93
Tunable Solid-State Bulk and Fiber Lasers 94
Other Tunable Laser Sources 95
Q Switching 96
Active vs. Passive Q switching 97
Gain Switching 98
Mode Locking 99
Active Mode Locking 99
Passive Mode Locking 100
Examples for Mode-Locked Solid-State Lasers 101
Cavity Dumping 102
Nonlinear Frequency Conversion 103
Frequency Doubling 103
Sum and Difference Frequency Generation 106
Frequency Tripling and Quadrupling 107
Optical Parametric Oscillators 108
Laser Noise 109
Forms and Origins of Laser Noise 109
Relaxation Oscillations and Spiking 110
Noise Specifications 111
Schawlow-Townes Linewidth 112
Laser Stabilization 113
Laser Safety 114
Overview on Laser Hazards 114
Safe Working Practices 115
Common Challenges for Laser Safety 116
Design and Development 117
Designing a Laser 117
Laser Modeling 118
The Development Process 119
Power Scaling 121
Bibliography 125
Index 126

Introduction

Within the nearly five decades since the invention of the laser, a wide range of laser devices has been developed. The primary objectives of this Field Guide are to provide an overview of all essential lasers types and their key properties and to give an introduction into the most important physical and technological aspects of lasers. In addition to the basic principles, such as stimulated emission and the properties of optical resonators, this Field Guide discusses many practical issues, including the variety of important laser crystal properties, the impact of thermal effects on laser performance, the methods of wavelength tuning and pulse generation, and laser noise. Practitioners may also gain valuable insight from remarks on laser safety (emphasizing real-life issues rather than formal rules and classifications) and obtain new ideas about how to make the laser development process more efficient. Therefore, this Field Guide can be useful for researchers as well as engineers using or developing laser sources.

I am greatly indebted to my wife, who strongly supported the creation of this Field Guide, mainly by improving the majority of the figures.

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta
RP Photonics Consulting GmbH
Zürich, Switzerland


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