Continuous-wave laser action has been observed for the first time in a recombining plasma from a metal vapor arc. Laser action occurred in Cd vapor, at 1.40, 1.43, 1.45, and 1.64 μm, as Cd+ ions recombined with free plasma electrons in the presence of rapidly flowing He gas. Input powers of 50-70 W (4-6 A at 12 V) produced output powers of 0.7 mW with the laser operating near threshold. The measured variation of the small-signal gain with distance from the arc was found to agree with a calculated variation based on a recombination model. Exploitation of the rapid recombination rates observed here should lead to a large number of cw recombination lasers in neutral species, and extension of these rates to higher ion stages could lead to cw lasers on visible and UV transitions.

© 1983 Optical Society of America

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