Remote monitoring of carbon dioxide (CO2) is becoming increasingly
important for homeland security needs as well as for studying the CO2
distribution in the atmosphere as it pertains to global warming problems.
So, efficient solid-state lasers emitting in the 1.55 - 1.65 μm spectral
range, where CO2 absorption lines are, (i), plentiful and, (ii), carry
significant relevant information, are in great demand. Reported here is the
first laser performance of resonantly pumped Er3+-doped scandia (Sc2O3)
ceramic. The laser was operated in the cryogenically-cooled regime with
the quantum defect (QD) of only 4.5%, which, along with superior thermal
conductivity of scandia, offers significant eye-safe power scaling potential
with nearly diffraction limited beam quality. Slope efficiency of 77% and
Q-CW output power of 2.35 W were obtained at 1605.5 nm which has
significant utility for counter-IED applications.