Abstract

The ability to generate and then amplify radially polarized light opens up the possibility of achieving very high-power, near diffraction-limited beams from rod-based solid-state lasers. Residual bifocusing rapidly degrades beam quality. Residual bifocusing results from nonradially symmetric pump distributions. We analyze how a nonradially symmetric pump distribution induces a nonradially symmetric stress map. This manifests itself as nonradially symmetric birefringence, and as depolarization to radially/azimuthally polarized beams (or as deterioration in birefringence compensated linearly polarized lasers). Here we analytically describe the birefringence terms of a nonradially symmetric strain map. The model results are supported by radial-depolarization measurements in our 2kW Nd:YAG pump chambers. For the current level of depolarization, beam quality degradation per rod is ΔM2=4 because of bifocusing alone. The degradation per rod can be reduced substantially by improving pump uniformity.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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