Abstract

Modulation of the laser intensity caused by surface defects on optical components is a main concern for high-power lasers. Among the consequences of this effect, the laser damage occurrence can be magnified on the downstream components in the laser chain. In order to understand the impact of defects on wave propagation, a specific numerical approach has been developed. The defects are modeled as phase perturbations that are used as inputs in either a 1D axi-symmetric code based on finite differences or a 2D code that uses fast Fourier transform. The computations are then used to evaluate the laser intensity modulations generated by CO2 laser-induced defects at the surface of fused silica optics. A dedicated damage experiment at 355 nm has been carried out for various defect dimensions. Consistent results are found between experiments and simulations, both on the quantitative values of magnitude and positions of the modulations. This study proves that, for short propagation distances, it is necessary to use the exact shape of the defect in the simulations, especially the complex rim structure characteristic of CO2 laser craters.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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