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Q-switching of the CO2laser

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1 Author(s)
D. Meyerhofer ; RCA Laboratories, Princeton, NJ, USA

The laser pulses obtainable from a Q -switched CO2laser are calculated and compared with the results of a number of different techniques of performing the Q -switching. The continuously operating laser is considered first. The transition rates between the molecular vibrational states and their occupations are derived from the measured CW power. The laser tube was 1.9 meters long, had a diameter of 2.4 cm, and used flowing CO2-N2-He gas. For rapid Q -switching, maximum pulses of 4.5 mJ energy and 85 ns half width are predicted. Such pulses were observed with a rotating mirror Q -switch. However, that technique has a limited pulse repetition rate and experiments on closely spaced pulses are difficult to interpret. A more flexible technique, which allows a much greater variation in the experimental parameters, is the use of a fast shutter to interrupt the laser beam in the cavity. While this switch is somewhat slower than the rotating mirror it does produce pulses of the same energy at repetition rates up to 5000 per second, and smaller pulses at any desired higher rate. From these measurements the upper and lower laser level lifetimes are deduced. They are found to agree well with the values obtained from the CW measurements.

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 11 )