Abstract

This paper presents an experimental study of time-resolved gain in H2O, H2O–He, and H2O–H2 mixtures as a function of gas composition and excitation current. Utilizing the fast rising (~70 nsec) pulse from H2O–He laser as a probe, the amplifier gain was measured with a time resolution of about 100 nsec. The gain was observed to follow the excitation current pulse rather closely indicating that population inversion was established in times less than 100 nsec. This suggested that excitation was most likely by means of rapid cascading from higher levels and/or by direct electron impact. The gain was found to be describable by a two-level rate equation model containing one dominant relaxation rate and assuming immediate excitation of the levels involved by inelastic collisions with electrons. With pure H2O, the relaxation rate was proportional to pressure to within 10%, indicating that the upper level was de-excited primarily by collisions with other H2O molecules. At a pressure of 1 Torr the relaxation rate in pure H2O was 0.35 ± 0.05 for the 28-μm transition. The addition of small amounts of foreign gases was observed to increase this relaxation rate, consistent with the measured decrease in the amplifier gain. By subsequently increasing the water vapor pressure it was found possible to optimize the gain at an enhanced level over the pure H2O case. The peak gain obtained in water vapor at 1000 A was 0.34 m−1. Under foreign gas addition this increased to 0.68 m−1 for the same peak current. In this case the relaxation rate, as a function of the foreign gas (He or H2) pressure, remained constant to within 10%, suggesting that these gases at higher concentrations may enhance the system gain by altering the discharge conditions without appreciably collisionally de-exciting the upper laser level.

© 1972 Optical Society of America

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