Abstract

A technique to phase lock CO2 lasers with spatially separated active media was investigated. Only reflective optics (except for the output coupler) were used, in view of applications of this method in the field of high-power lasers. Phase locking was established when the beams of two resonator branches were made to propagate very close to each other along the so-called coupling path. As a result of diffraction effects both resonators were exchanging energy, establishing a phase-locked operation mode when several locking conditions were fulfilled. A maximum coupling coefficient (the ratio between the diffracted intensity in the second cavity and the intercavity intensity in the first resonator) of 2.6% could be achieved. Because phase locking was highly dependent on the difference between the two resonator lengths, a length control that uses a piezoelectric translator connected to one of the resonator mirrors was used. To detect phase locking, the intensity maximum of the interference pattern of the two laser beams was monitored with a fast detector. By application of a ramp signal to the piezoelectric translator and detection of the peak intensity, the locking range could be measured. Up to a mismatch of the resonator lengths of λ/130, locking could be maintained. The measurements were compared with results of a computer simulation with Huygens–Fresnel integrals to describe diffraction and the one-dimensional Maxwellian equations to calculate supermodes and to analyze their stability. The numerical results showed an excellent agreement with the measured values.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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