Laser construction

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A laser is constructed from three principal parts:

Contents

Pump source

The pump source is the part that provides energy to the laser system. Examples of pump sources include electrical discharges, flashlamps, arc lamps, light from another laser, chemical reactions and even explosive devices. The type of pump source used principally depends on the gain medium, and this also determines how the energy is transmitted to the medium. A helium-neon (HeNe) laser uses an electrical discharge in the helium-neon gas mixture, a Nd:YAG laser uses either light focused from a xenon flash lamp or diode lasers, and excimer lasers use a chemical reaction.

Gain medium / Laser medium

The gain medium is the major determining factor of the wavelength of operation, and other properties, of the laser. Gain media in different materials have linear spectra or wide spectra. Gain media with wide spectra allow tune frequency of laser. First wide tunable crystal laser with tunabulity more octave represent on photo 3 http://spie.org/x39922.xml . There are hundreds if thousands of different gain media in which laser operation has been achieved (see list of laser types for a list of the most important ones). The gain medium is excited by the pump source to produce a population inversion, and it is in the gain medium that spontaneous and stimulated emission of photons takes place, leading to the phenomenon of optical gain, or amplification.

Examples of different gain media include:

  • Liquids, such as dye lasers. These are usually organic chemical solvents, such as methanol, ethanol or ethylene glycol, to which are added chemical dyes such as coumarin, rhodamine and fluorescein. The exact chemical configuration of the dye molecules determines the operation wavelength of the dye laser.
  • Gases, such as carbon dioxide, argon, krypton and mixtures such as helium-neon. These lasers are often pumped by electrical discharge.
  • Solids, such as crystals and glasses. The solid host materials are usually doped with an impurity such as chromium, neodymium, erbium or titanium ions. Typical hosts include YAG (yttrium aluminium garnet), YLF (yttrium lithium fluoride), sapphire (aluminium oxide) and various glasses. Examples of solid-state laser media include Nd:YAG, Ti:sapphire, Cr:sapphire (usually known as ruby), Cr:LiSAF (chromium-doped lithium strontium aluminium fluoride), Er:YLF, Nd:glass, and Er:glass. Solid-state lasers are usually pumped by flashlamps or light from another laser.
  • Semiconductors, a type of solid, crystal with uniform dopant distrubution or material with differing dopant levels in which the movement of electrons can cause laser action. Semiconductor lasers are typically very small, and can be pumped with a simple electric current, enabling them to be used in consumer devices such as compact disc players. See laser diode.

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