An intra-cavity phase element, combined with a passive Q-switch saturable absorber and a suitable intra-cavity aperture, can provide extremely high mode discrimination, so as to obtain laser operation with single, pure, very high order Laguerre-Gaussian mode. With a Nd:YAG laser setup, well controlled and extremely stable Q-switched operation in the degenerate Laguerre-Gaussian TEM04, TEM14, TEM24, TEM34, and TEM44 modes was obtained. The measured output energy per pulse for each of these modes was 5.2mJ, 7.5mJ, 10mJ, 12.5mJ, and 13.7mJ respectively, compared to 2.5mJ for the Gaussian mode without the phase element (more than a five fold increase in output energy). Correcting the phase for these modes, so that all transverse lobes have uniform phase, results in a very bright and narrow central lobe in the far field intensity distribution that can theoretically contain more than 90% of the output energy.
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