Correction of birefringence-induced effects (depolarization and bipolar focusing) were achieved in double-pass amplifiers by use of a Faraday rotator between the laser rod and the retroreflecting optic. A necessary condition was ray retrace. Retrace was limited by imperfect conjugate-beam fidelity and by nonreciprocal refractive indices. We compared various retroreflectors: stimulated-Brillouin-scatter phase-conjugate mirrors (PCMs), PCMs with rod-to-PCM relay imaging (IPCM), IPCMs with astigmatism-correcting adaptive optics, and all-adaptive-optics imaging variable-radius mirrors. Results with flash-lamp-pumped, Nd:Cr:GSGG double-pass amplifiers showed the superiority of adaptive optics over nonlinear optics retroreflectors in terms of maximum average power, improved beam quality, and broader oscillator pulse duration/bandwidth operating range. Hybrid PCM-adaptive optics retroreflectors yielded intermediate power/beam-quality results.
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