Optical-to-optical conversion efficiencies of as high as 32% with a slope efficiency of 44% were obtained with a novel diode-bar, side-pumped laser cavity design. A slab geometry with a single, high-angle-of-incidence reflection was used to extract gain from near the pump face of a Nd:YVO4 bar that absorbed strongly at the pump wavelength. Small-signal gains of greater than 8 cm−1 and pulse energies of as much as 3.2 mJ were obtained in an almost TEM00 mode. Aperturing effects by the laser rod were found to limit the effects of nonuniform gain on the laser mode.
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