Abstract

Fission-fragment excitation can potentially be used to efficiently pump high power gas lasers with long run times. However, the high energy loading of Ar/Xe gas mix tures during fission-fragment excitation (typically 50-500 J /L) can result in significant gas heating (ΔT=90−900°C for 760 torr argon) and degraded performance of the atmospheric pressure Ar/Xe laser. Addition of helium, which is efficiently excited by fission-fragments, has been shown to significantly improve the 1.73 µm atomic xenon laser performance. Using a narrow band dielectric laser cavity to suppress the 2.03-µm atomic xenon transition, the 1.73-µm laser power efficiency varied between 1 and 3 % for total pressures of 520-1550 torr, He/Ar ratios of 3:1-16:1 and pump rates of 5-40 W/cm3. For a constant energy loading, the FWHM of the laser pulse with respect to the pump pulse increased by a factor of 2.5 when argon is replaced by helium. Probed small signal gain measurements indicate that the gain varies 0.2-0.8%/cm for the previous experimental conditions. Calculated saturation intensity for a 780 Torr He/Ar/Xe gas -mixture was 110-90 W/cm3 for pump powers of 15 and 7.5 W/cm3, in good agreement with calculated saturation intensity values for similar total pressure Ar/Xe gas mixtures. The implications of helium substitution on the atomic xenon laser kinetics are discussed.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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