Optically pumped alkali vapor lasers are currently being developed in several laboratories. The objective is to construct high-powered lasers that also exhibit excellent beam quality. Considerable progress has been made, but there are technical challenges associated with the reactivity of the metal atoms. Rare gas atoms (Rg) excited to the configuration are metastable and have spectral properties that are closely similar to those of the alkali metals. In principle, optically pumped lasers could be constructed using excitation of the transitions. We have demonstrated this potential by observing gain and lasing for optically pumped , and . Three-level lasing schemes were used, with He or Ar as the collisional energy transfer agent that established the population inversion. These laser systems have the advantage of using inert reagents that are gases at room temperature.
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