Optical Pulse Generation: Section Introduction

Authored by: Clive Ireland

Handbook of Laser Technology and Applications

Print publication date:  June  2021
Online publication date:  June  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138032613
eBook ISBN: 9781315389561
Adobe ISBN:


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The most commonly used categorization of laser output is into continuous wave (cw) or pulsed operation. This comes from the earliest days of laser research investigating the practical possibility of operating three- and four-level systems [1,2]. Subsequently, experiment confirmed that generating sufficient inversion for lasing in three-level systems requires high peak power pulse excitation. However, this is not to say that the majority of pulsed lasers in use today are based on three-level systems. Although there are more than 15 000 laser transitions reported in a broad range of media (the majority only providing weak output under powerful pulsed excitation), even for those that can be operated cw, the great majority finding practical use are employed with modulation or pulsed control of the beam [3].

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