This paper contains an analysis of the behavior of saturable filters, based on models with simple energy level structures. In this analysis, the effects of possible excited state absorption at the irradiating wavelength are considered and are shown to give rise to a nonsaturable component of the absorption coefficient. Expressions for the steady-state transmission of an optically thick saturable absorber, and for the temporal response of an optically thin absorber, are derived. The question of homogeneous vs inhomogeneous broadening of the absorption line is discussed, and it is suggested that spectral hole burning may occur in a thermally broadened line at a sufficiently high irradiance level. The desirable features of a saturable absorber for use in a Q-switched laser system are briefly described, and it is shown how the usual rate equations for a laser system may be amended to include the effects of an intracavity saturable filter.
© 1967 Optical Society of America
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