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15 May 2012 The investigation of transient thermal effects in optical elements under high laser intensities
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The most important limitations in development of high energy and high power lasers based on solid state technology are thermal effects occurring under high intensity and high heat loads. The thermo-optical effects occurring inside output couplers, folding mirrors, output windows can significantly diminish the beam quality of high power lasers and therefore have to be investigated. The knowledge on transient thermal effects occurring inside bulk laser elements exposed on laser intensities of several dozens of kW/cm2 is of special interest for some specific applications (e.g. heat capacity lasers). The aims of work were theoretical analysis of those effects occurring inside the laser mirrors and its experimental verification. The hints for choice of the best materials (from the point of view of thermal limitations) for laser windows and output couplers were pointed out. The special laboratory setup enabling simultaneous registration of thermo-optical effects applying shearing interferometry and wavefront sensing by means of Shack-Hartmann test was worked out. The transient as well as averaged in time thermal-optical effects occurring inside the volume of examined element as a result of surface absorption in the coatings and bulk absorption in the material can be resolved and measured. The resolution of measurements: less than 0.1 K temperature difference and thermally induced optical power of about 0.1 D were demonstrated.
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Mateusz Kaskow, Jan Tarka, Jacek Kwiatkowski, Waldemar Zendzian, Lukasz Gorajek, and Jan K. Jabczynski "The investigation of transient thermal effects in optical elements under high laser intensities", Proc. SPIE 8433, Laser Sources and Applications, 84331V (15 May 2012);

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