Production and amplification of radially and azimuthally (tangentially) polarized laser beams are demonstrated. Based on the different focusing between radially and tangentially polarized light in thermally stressed isotropic laser rods, Nd:YAG laser oscillators were developed to produce low-loss stable oscillation in a single polarization. Pure radially polarized light at 70 W with and on-axis impure radially polarized light at 150 W with were achieved. The radially polarized beams were then amplified while good beam quality and polarization purity were retained. Complete elimination of thermal-birefringence-induced aberrations was demonstrated. This should allow much better beam quality from rod-based high-power lasers.
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