Abstract

A tunable-diode laser operating in the 2120–2350-cm−1 wave-number region is used to probe a conventional cw N2O laser discharge. Absorption lines in more than 10 different vibrational bands are observed, enabling us to determine vibrational populations in all levels of concern to the dynamics of the 10-μm N2O laser. The populations in the three normal modes of vibration of N2O are found to follow Boltzmann distributions, with the ν1 and ν2 modes maintaining a common vibrational temperature under all discharge conditions. The factors limiting the small-signal 10-μm gain are investigated in detail, and it is found that electron deexcitation of the 00°1 level is much more important than N2O dissociation.

© 1985 Optical Society of America

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