Abstract

Optically pumped rare gas lasers are being investigated as potential high-energy, high beam quality systems. The lasing medium consists of rare gas atoms (Rg=Ne, Ar, Kr, or Xe) that have been electric discharge excited to the metastable np5(n+1)sP32 state. Following optical excitation, helium (He) at pressures of 200–1000 Torr is used as the energy transfer agent to create a population inversion. The primary technical difficulty for this scheme is the discharge production of sufficient Rg* metastables in the presence of >200  Torr of He. In this Letter, we describe a pulsed discharge that yields >1013  cm3Ar* in the presence of He at total pressures up to 750 Torr. Using this discharge, a diode-pumped Ar* laser providing 4.1 W has been demonstrated.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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