We investigate the general characteristics of Herriott-type multipass cavities (MPC) for femtosecond lasers. MPCs can be used to increase the laser pulse energy by extending the laser cavity path length and decreasing the repetition rate, as well as to make standard repetition rate lasers more compact. We present an analytical design condition for MPCs which preserve the Gaussian beam q parameter, enabling the laser path length to be extended while leaving the Kerr-lens modelocking operating point of the cavity invariant. As a specific example, we analyze q preserving MPCs consisting of a flat and curved mirror to obtain analytical expressions for the cavity length. This predicts the optimum MPC designs that minimize the pulse repetition rate for given specifications. These design conditions should prove useful for designing a wide range of high pulse energy or compact femtosecond lasers.
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