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Resonant modes in a maser interferometer

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2 Author(s)

A theoretical investigation has been undertaken to study diffraction of electromagnetic waves in Fabry-Perot interferometers when they are used as resonators in optical masers. An electronic digital computer was programmed to compute the electromagnetic field across the mirrors of the interferometer where an initially launched wave is reflected back and forth between the mirrors. It was found that after many reflections a state is reached in which the relative field distribution does not vary from transit to transit and the amplitude of the field decays at an exponential rate. This steady-state field distribution is regarded as a normal mode of the interferometer. Many such normal modes are possible depending upon the initial wave distribution. The lowest-order mode, which has the lowest diffraction loss, has a high intensity at the middle of the mirror and rather low intensities at the edges. Therefore, the diffraction loss is much lower than would be predicted for a uniform plane wave. Curves for field distribution and diffraction loss are given for different mirror geometries and different modes. Since each mode has a characteristic loss and phase shift per transit, a uniform plane wave which can be resolved into many modes cannot, properly speaking, be resonated in an interferometer. In the usual optical interferometers, the resolution is too poor to resolve the individual mode resonances and the uniform plane wave distribution may be maintained approximately. However, in an oscillating maser, the lowest-order mode should dominate if the mirror spacing is correct for resonance. A confocal spherical system has also been investigated and the losses are shown to be orders of magnitude less than for plane mirrors.

Published in:

Bell System Technical Journal, The  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 2 )