21 October 2016 Thermal effects in Cs DPAL and alkali cell window damage
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Experiments on power scaling of Diode Pumped Alkali Lasers (DPALs) revealed some limiting parasitic effects such as alkali cell windows and gain medium contamination and damage, output power degradation in time and others causing lasing efficiency decrease or even stop lasing1 . These problems can be connected with thermal effects, ionization, chemical interactions between the gain medium components and alkali cells materials. Study of all these and, possibly, other limiting effects and ways to mitigate them is very important for high power DPAL development. In this talk we present results of our experiments on temperature measurements in the gain medium of operating Cs DPAL at different pump power levels in the range from lasing threshold to the levels causing damage of the alkali cell windows. For precise contactless in situ temperature measurements, we used an interferometric technique, developed in our lab2 . In these experiments we demonstrated that damage of the lasing alkali cell starts in the bulk with thermal breakdown of the hydrocarbon buffer gas. The degradation processes start at definite critical temperatures of the gain medium, different for each mixture of buffer gas. At this critical temperature, the hydrocarbon and the excited alkali metal begin to react producing the characteristic black soot and, possibly, some other chemical compounds, which both harm the laser performance and significantly increase the harmful heat deposition within the laser medium. This soot, being highly absorptive, is catastrophically heated to very high temperatures that visually observed as bulk burning. This process quickly spreads to the cell windows and causes their damage. As a result, the whole cell is also contaminated with products of chemical reactions.
Conference Presentation
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B. V. Zhdanov, B. V. Zhdanov, M. D. Rotondaro, M. D. Rotondaro, M. K. Shaffer, M. K. Shaffer, R. J. Knize, R. J. Knize, "Thermal effects in Cs DPAL and alkali cell window damage", Proc. SPIE 9990, High-Power Lasers 2016: Technology and Systems, 99900C (21 October 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2242166; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2242166

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