Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Edward L. Battle, PhD

Second Advisor

John A. Wilson, PhD


The partial pressures from heated sulfur crystals and helium, and sulfur and nitrogen required for ionic sulfur laser action in a gas discharge were determined. Previous work with sulfur lasers is reviewed and population inversion mechanisms are presented for the ionic sulfur laser lines. Possible excitation mechanisms are presented for both electron and ion or atomic collision excitation. Transition diagrams for all the known ionic sulfur laser transitions and an approximate potential energy curve for the diatomic sulfur molecule are presented. Laser action was achieved only when a spark gap pulser was used with a laser tube especially designed to control the pressure and flow of the sulfur vapor. A 400 ns pulser built for the experiment could not cause the sulfur to lase. The region of laser action for the various combinations of sulfur pressure (as measured by the sulfur vapor temperature) and buffer gas pressure was measured for each visible laser line. Plots of observed intensity are presented on a grid of sulfur and helium partial pressures for each laser line. The optimum partial pressures of sulfur and helium are: 2 x 10-7 to 2 x 10-5 Torr ( 10° to 40° C) and .15 to .75 Torr, respectively, with the spark gap pulser. Brief attempts to achieve CW laser oscillation indicate some promise but were unsuccessful. Results of the experiment should be useful in further studies to find and optimize strong visible and ultra-violet laser lines.

AFIT Designator



Scanned from the original print thesis by The D'Azzo Research Library (AFIT/ENWL) staff.