As a class of laser crystals, the Cr3+ -doped lasers offer enormous potential for highly efficient, tunable, visible, and near-IR output under diode-pumped conditions. Such lasers are consequently appropriate for a wide range of applications. Diode-pumping of a Cr3+-doped laser was first reported1 for alexandrite using two geometrically coupled, 680-nm laser diodes. In addition, diode-pumping of Cr3+ LiSrA1F6 (Cr:LiSAF) was recently reported.2 Cr3+ LiCaA1F6 (Cr:LiCAF), ivith a laser tuning range3 of 720840 nm, a stimulated emission cross-section of 1.2 × 10−20 cm2, and a spontaneous lifetime of 175 μs, is of particular interest for applications for which alexandrite is well suited, including lidar and near-IR illumination. In this work, we report the first operation of a Cr:LiCAF laser, pumped by laser diodes. Diode-pumping was achieved by combining the output of two 10-mW, 673-nm laser diodes. The pump geometry used is similar to that used to end-pump Nd:YAG lasers, utilizing polarization combination of the two pump diodes. Unlike alexandrite, polarization combination is an effective technique for Cr:LiCAF, because the absorption coefficients for the σ and π pump polarizations are similar.

© 1991 Optical Society of America

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