The absorption behavior has been studied in the 120-1000-nm region in modern high-purity samples of MgF2,CaF2, and BaF2 crystals when they undergo prolonged irradiation in air by an electron beam with energy less than 280 keV (about 10<sup>4</sup> pulses, total fluence about 20 kJ/cm<sup>2</sup>). The induced optical density in CaF2 and BaF2 in the 200-1000-nm region was about 0.04-0.1 after such irradiation. Absorption in the UV region in MgF2 samples monotonically increases with irradiation, and they have almost completely lost their transparency in the 260-nm region at fluences of about 500 J/cm<sup>2</sup>. The studies of the crystals showed that the electron-beam induced absorption is largely determined by impurities that were either already present or that entered the samples while they were being irradiated. © 2005 Optical Society of America

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