The electric oxygen iodine laser (EOIL) offers a vastly more practical, implementable, and safer alternative to its
predecessor, the chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL), particularly for airborne or other mobile military applications.
Despite its promise and after 25 years effort, numerous laboratories around the world have not succeeded in providing
the known basic physical requirements needed to electrically convert O2 into O2(a1Δ)with the fractional yields and
efficiencies needed to make a practical laser. Hence, as of this date, the world record power generated from an EOIL
device is only 6.5 watts.
In this paper, a 30% conversion from O2 into O2(a1Δ) operating at substantial oxygen mass flow rates (0.090 moles
O2/sec at 50 torr) and 40% electrical efficiency is reported. The O2(a1Δ) flow stream being produced carries 2400 watts.
Gain measurements are currently in progress, to be followed shortly by power extraction. Current conditions imply that
initial power extraction could push beyond 1 KW.
Efforts to date have failed to generate substantial laser power because critical criteria have not been met. In order to
achieve good O2(a1Δ) fractional yield, it is normally mandatory to impart on the order of 100 KJ/mole O2 while
efficiently removing the waste heat energy from the generator so that less than a few hundred degrees Kelvin rise occurs
due to gas heating. The generator must be excited by an electric field on the order of 10 Td. This is far below glow
potential; hence, a fully externally sustained plasma generation technique is required.
Ionization is supplied by means of applying short (tens of nanosecond) pulses to the O2(a1Δ) generator at 50,000 PPS,
which are on the order of ten times breakdown potential. This enables a quasi-steady adjustable DC current to flow
through the generator, being conducted by application of a DC, 10 to 14 Td pump E-field. This field is also
independently tunable. The result is that up to 180 KJ/mole O2 gets imparted to the gas by means of the ~6 KW sub-breakdown
pump field, while another 2700 watts is applied to the controlled avalanche field.
The generator consists of 24 each, 1 cm diameter tubes that are submerged in rapidly circulating cold fluorinert. Heat is
efficiently removed so that that the gas temperature, initially 273°K, raises only by 125°K, as evidenced by
spectrographic analysis of the fine structure of O2(b1Σ) at lower pressure. Since all necessary conditions have been met, a
30% conversion rate of O2 to O2(a1Δ) has been achieved. Fortuitously, neither excited O atom production nor O2(b1Σ)
production is visible in the spectra of the higher pressure, best yield runs. Essentially all other spectral lines are dwarfed
in comparison the O2(a1Δ) line. Energy normally partitioned to O2(b1Σ) and apparently O atoms now feeds into O2(a1Δ)
directly, enabling electrical efficiency to exceed 40%.
As a continuation of this work, an I2 disassociating mixing section - then subsequently a 20 cm transverse M = 2.5 laser
channel - has been coupled to the O2(a1Δ) generator. The effects of titrating NO, NO2, etc. to scavenge O atoms and O3
atoms is under current investigation. Laser power extraction will commence after having optimized all parameters to
achieve maximum gain.