Parameters for Quantitative Comparison of Two-, Three-, and Four-level Laser Media, Operating Wavelengths, and Temperatures

Report No. ARL-RP-0296
Authors: Jeffrey O. White
Date/Pages: August 2010; 14 pages
Abstract: Several parameters are proposed for describing the statistical thermodynamic component of the exchange of photons between a pump and a laser beam. They are based on the occupation probability of absorbing and emitting, pump and laser levels, and are complementary to the optical cross sections. The "occupation factor", ƒ0, is appropriate for describing an optical amplifier in the small signal regime. ƒ1 is appropriate for describing an amplifier in the large signal regime, e.g., a laser. They serve to facilitate a quantitative comparison of laser gain media, operating temperatures, and choice of pump and laser wavelengths. After a simple scaling, both occupation factors have a numerical value that coincides well, in most cases, with conventional usage of the terms two-, three-, and four-level laser. They can thus serve as an unambiguous, quantitative alternative to the quasi-two-, quasi-three-, and quasi-four-level terminology. The proposed definitions are general enough to apply to many types of gain media, but are particularly useful for comparing systems with discrete levels, pumped with a narrowband source, in near-resonance with the laser wavelength. Several low-quantum-defect combinations of pump and laser wavelengths are analyzed for Er3+, Nd3+, Yb3+, and Ho3+ in YAG, as a function of temperature.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2010