Laser Beam Transformation: Propagation, Amplification, Frequency Conversion, Pulse Compression, and Pulse Expansion

  • Orazio Svelto


Before it is put to use, a laser beam is generally transformed in some way. The most common transformation occurs when the beam is made to propagate in free space or through a suitable optical system. Since this produces a change in the spatial distribution of the beam (e.g., the beam may be focused or expanded), we refer to this as a spatial transformation of the laser beam. A second, frequently encountered, transformation occurs when the beam is passed through an amplifier or chain of amplifiers. Since the main effect here is to alter the beam amplitude, we refer to this as amplitude transformation. A third, rather different, transformation occurs when the wavelength of the beam is changed via propagation through a suitable nonlinear optical material (wavelength transformation or frequency conversion). The temporal behavior of the laser beam can also be modified by a suitable optical element. For example the amplitude of a cw laser beam can be temporally modulated by an electrooptic or acoustooptic modulator, or the time duration of a laser pulse can be increased (pulse expansion) or decreased (pulse compression) using suitably dispersive optical systems or nonlinear optical elements. This type of transformation is here referred to as time transformation. Note that these four types of beam transformation are often interrelated. For instance, amplitude transformation and frequency conversion often result in spatial and time transformations occurring as well.


Frequency Conversion Pulse Compression Second Harmonic Extraordinary Wave Master Oscillator Power Amplifier 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Orazio Svelto
    • 1
  1. 1.Polytechnic Institute of Milan and National Research CouncilMilanItaly

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