A Three-level Analytic Model for Alkali Metal Vapor Lasers: Part I

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A three-level analytic model for optically pumped alkali metal vapor lasers is developed by considering the steady-state rate equations for the longitudinally averaged number densities of the ground 2S1/2 and first excited 2P3/2, and 2P1/2 states. The threshold pump intensity includes both the requirements to fully bleach the pump transition and exceed optical losses, typically about 200 W/cm2. Slope efficiency depends critically on the fraction of incident photons absorbed and the overlap of pump and resonator modes, approaching the quantum efficiency of 0.95–0.98, depending on the alkali atom. For marginal cavity transmission losses, peak performance is achieved for low output coupling mirror reflectivity. For efficient operation, the collisional relaxation between the two upper levels should be fast to prevent bottlenecking. By assuming a statistical distribution between the upper two levels, the limiting analytic solution for the quasi two-level system is achieved. For properly designed gain conditions, the quasi two-level solution is usually achievable and represents ideal performance.


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Applied Physics B