A diode-pumped highly efficient passively Q-switched laser formed by a plano–concave resonator has been demonstrated. At the highest attainable absorbed pump power of 11.4 W, 4.05 W of average output power, which was two thirds of the maximum corresponding cw output, was achieved with an optical conversion efficiency of 35.5%, and the slope efficiency was determined to be 46.8%, reaching 85% of the magnitude of its cw counterpart. The resulting shortest pulse duration, single-pulse energy, and peak power were found to be 13 ns, 90 μJ, and 7 kW, respectively, with a pulse repetition frequency (PRF) of 45 kHz. Two particularly modified resonator configurations were employed; the largest pulse energy and the highest peak power reached were, respectively, 154 μJ and 11.2 kW at 8.5 W of absorbed pump power. An analytical relation between the PRF and the absorbed pump power is given for a passively Q-switched laser, showing good consistency with experiment with a laser. The dependence of the operational parameters on the pump power and on the output coupling was also investigated experimentally. Issues involving the criterion for passive Q switching are discussed in some detail for passively Q-switched neodymium-doped vanadate lasers.
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