Abstract

An observation of prior-damage behavior inside a high-finesse optical resonator is reported. Intra-cavity average power drops appeared with magnitude and time scale depending on the power level. Increasing further the incident laser beam power led to irreversible damage of the cavity coupling mirror surface. The origin of this phenomenon is investigated with post mortem mirror surface imaging and analysis of the signals reflected and transmitted by the enhancement cavity. Scattering losses induced by surface deformation due to a hot-spot surface contaminant is found to be most likely the dominant physics process behind this phenomenon.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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