A small, lightweight, low-cost prototype laser has been developed for use in a microlaser range finder (µLRF). The laser design is based on a flash-lamp-pumped, Nd:YAG laser with a Cr4+ passive Q switch. The design incorporates a monolithic potassium titanyl arsenide (KTA) optical parametric oscillator (OPO) in an intracavity configuration, producing output at 1.54 µm. Precisely cut, properly coated crystals make up the laser resonator, reducing the number of components and enabling laser oscillation with the simplest of alignment fixtures. The 1.54-µm laser cavity consists of only four rectangular-shaped crystals: a Nd:YAG laser rod, a Nd:YAG endcap, a Cr4+ Q switch, and a KTA OPO. Along with a ceramic laser pallet and a flash lamp, these six components make up a prototype monoblock (essentially a one-piece) laser transmitter. Several of these simple prototypes have been built and tested, giving a nominal output of >3.0 mJ at 1.54 µm with a 27-ns pulse width. The transmitter was incorporated into a breadboard laser range finder, and successful ranging operations were performed to targets at ranges in excess of 3 km.
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