Over the past few years there has been something of a revival in the use of rf discharges for the excitation of gas lasers and in particular with regard to cw waveguide CO2 lasers in which the rf field is applied in a direction transverse to the optic axis. Inevitably, comparisons are made with high-voltage longitudinal dc discharge-excited lasers, and here rf pumping would seem to have a number of advantages in terms of power extraction capability, modulation bandwidth, and efficiency.1,2 The realization of some of these benefits, however, is dependent on appropriate selection of discharge characteristics for the optimization of laser performance, and, in particular, the choice of the frequency of the rf generator allows a considerable degree of flexibility in this regard.3 However, when investigating the manner in which rf discharge properties scale with drive frequency, it is necessary to take account of other selectable parameters such as discharge cross section, pressure, and rf power input in the spirit of the similarity laws of ac discharges. The application of similarity relations to plasma scaling for dc-excited waveguide CO2 lasers has been discussed by several authors4,5 who have summarized the invariant laser parameters for situations where gas temperature and electron temperature are constant.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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