The modeling of laser interaction with metals for various applications requires a knowledge of absorption coefficients for real, commercially available materials with engineering grade (unpolished, oxidized) surfaces. However, most currently available absorptivity data pertain to pure metals with polished surfaces or vacuum-deposited thin films in controlled atmospheres. A simple laboratory setup is developed for the direct calorimetric absorptivity measurements using a diode-array laser emitting at 780 nm. A scheme eliminating the effect of convective and radiative losses is implemented. The obtained absorptivity results differ considerably from existing data for polished pure metals and are essential for the development of predictive laser-material interaction models.
Resonance transition rubidium laser (52P1/2→52S1/2) is demonstrated with a hydrocarbon-free buffer gas. Prior
demonstrations of alkali resonance transition lasers have used ethane as either the buffer gas or a buffer gas component
to promote rapid fine-structure mixing. However, our experience suggests that the alkali vapor reacts with the ethane
producing carbon as one of the reaction products. This degrades long term laser reliability. Our recent experimental
results with a "clean" helium-only buffer gas system pumped by a Ti:sapphire laser demonstrate all the advantages of the
original alkali laser system, but without the reliability issues associated with the use of ethane. We further report a
demonstration of a rubidium laser using a buffer gas consisting of pure 3He. Using isotopically enriched 3He gas yields
enhanced mixing of the Rb fine-structure levels. This enables efficient lasing at reduced He buffer gas pressure,
improved thermal management in high average power Rb lasers and enhanced power scaling potential of such systems.
An optical resonance transition rubidium laser (52P1/2 → 52S1/2) is demonstrated with a hydrocarbon-free buffer gas. Prior demonstrations of alkali resonance transition lasers have used ethane as either the buffer gas or a buffer gas component to promote rapid fine-structure mixing. However, our experience suggests that the alkali vapor reacts with the ethane producing carbon as one of the reaction products. This degrades long term laser reliability. Our recent experimental results with a "clean" helium-only buffer gas system pumped by a Ti:sapphire laser demonstrate all the advantages of the original alkali laser system, but without the reliability issues associated with the use of ethane.
The new class of diode-pumped alkali vapor lasers (DPALs) offers high efficiency cw laser radiation at near-infrared wavelengths: cesium 895 nm, rubidium 795 nm, and potassium 770 nm. The working physical principles of DPALs will be presented. Initial 795 nm Rb and 895 nm Cs laser experiments performed using a titanium sapphire laser as a surrogate pump source demonstrated DPAL slope power conversion efficiencies in the 50-70% range, in excellent agreement with device models utilizing only literature spectroscopic and kinetic data. Using these benchmarked models for Rb and Cs, optimized DPALs with optical-optical efficiencies >60%, and electrical efficiencies of 25-30% are projected. DPAL device architectures for near-diffraction-limited power scaling into the high kilowatt power regime from a single aperture will be described. DPAL wavelengths of operation offer ideal matches to silicon and gallium arsenide based photovoltaic power conversion cells for efficient power beaming.
We report initial operation of the Mercury laser with seven 4 x 6 cm S-FAP amplifier slabs pumped by four 80 kW diode arrays. The system produced up to 33.5 J single shot, 23.5 J at 5 Hz, and 10 J at 10 Hz for 20 minute runs at 1047 nm. During the initial campaign, more than 2.8 x 104 shots were accumulated on the system. The beam quality of the system was measured to be 2.8 x 6.3 times diffraction limited at 110 W of output, with 96% of the energy in a 5X diffraction limited spot. Static wavefront glass plates were used to correct for the low order distortions in the slabs due to fabrication and thermal loading. Scaling of crystal grown has begun with the first full size slab produced from large diameter growth. Using an energetics optimization code we find the beam aperture is scalable up to 20 x 30 cm and 4.2 kJ.
DPAL, a new class of diode pumped alkali vapor lasers, offers the prospect for high efficiency cw laser radiation at near-infrared wavelengths: cesium 895 nm, rubidium 795 nm, and potassium 770 nm. The physics of DPAL lasers are outlined, and the results of laboratory demonstrations using a titanium sapphire surrogate pump are summarized, along with benchmarked device models. DPAL electrical efficiencies of 25-30% are projected and near-diffraction-limited DPAL device power scaling into the multi-kilowatt regime from a single aperture is also projected.
Results of experiments with the laser guide star adaptive optics system on the 3-meter Shane telescope at Lick Observatory have demonstrated a factor of 4 performance improvement over previous results. Stellar images recorded at a wavelength of 2 micrometers were corrected to over 40 percent of the theoretical diffraction-limited peak intensity. For the previous two years, this sodium-layer laser guide star system has corrected stellar images at this wavelength to approximately 10 percent of the theoretical peak intensity limit. After a campaign to improve the beam quality of the laser system, and to improve calibration accuracy and stability of the adaptive optics system using new techniques for phase retrieval and phase-shifting diffraction interferometry, the system performance has been substantially increased. The next step will be to use the Lick system for astronomical science observations, and to demonstrate this level of performance with the new system being installed on the 10-meter Keck II telescope.
A laser system to generate sodium-layer guide stars has been designed, built and delivered to the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The system uses frequency doubled YAG lasers to pump liquid dye lasers and produces 20 W of average power. The design and performance result of this laser system are presented.
Atmospheric turbulence severely limits the resolution of ground-based telescopes. Adaptive optics can correct for the aberrations caused by the atmosphere, but requires a bright wavefront reference source in close angular proximity to the object being imaged. Since natural reference stars of the necessary brightness are relatively rare, methods of generating artificial reference beacons have been under active investigation for more than a decade. In this paper, we report the first significant image improvement achieved using a sodium-layer laser guide star as a wavefront reference for a high-order adaptive optics system. An artificial beacon was created by resonant scattering from atomic sodium in the mesosphere, at an altitude of 95 km. Using this laser guide star, an adaptive optics system on the 3 m Shane Telescope at Lick Observatory produced a factor of 2.4 increase in peak intensity and a factor of 2 decrease in full width at half maximum of a stellar image, compared with image motion compensation alone. The Strehl ratio when using the laser guide star as the reference was 65% of that obtained with a natural guide star, and the image full widths at half maximum were identical, 0.3 arc sec, using either the laser or the natural guide star. This sodium-layer laser guide star technique holds great promise for the world's largest telescopes.
We report on the design and successful fabrication of a dichroic multilayer stack using a procedure that allowed shifting from high reflectance to high transmittance within 89 nm and surviving high laser fluences. A design approach based on quarter-wave thick layers allowed the multilayer stack to be optically tuned in the last layers of the stack. In our case, this necessitated removing the samples from the coating chamber for a transmittance scan prior to depositing the last layers. This procedure is not commonly practiced due to thermal stress- induced failures in an oxide multilayer. However, D. J. Smith and co-workers reported that reactive e-beam evaporated hafnia from a Hf source produced laser-resistant coatings that had less coating stress compared to coatings evaporated from a HfO2 source. Tuned dichroic coatings were made that had high transmittance at 941 nm and high reflectance at 1030 nm. The coating was exposed for 5 minutes to a 100 kW/cm2 1064 nm (180-ns pulsewidth, 10.7 kHz) laser beam and survived without microscopic damage. The same coating survived a 140 kW/cm2 of laser intensity without catastrophic damage before optical tuning was performed.