Passive Q-switching (PQS) of a diode-side-pumped Nd:YVO4 laser using a LiF:F2 crystal as a saturable absorber is reported. Using the grazing- incidence cavity geometry, we obtain trains of giant pulses of duration as short as ~10 ns and peak power of hundreds of Watts. The laser efficiency and beam quality in the PQS regime are shown to essentially depend on the cavity arrangement and output coupler reflectivity. In particular, maximum output power of 18.5 W at high-quality (TEM00 mode) PQS operation is obtained at pump power of 38 W and asymmetrical cavity with output coupler of reflectivity 30%.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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