Continuous Wave Laser Behavior

  • Orazio Svelto


In previous chapters we discussed several features of the components that make up a laser. These are the laser medium itself, whose interaction with an em wave is considered in Chaps. 2 and 3, the passive optical resonator (Chap. 5), and the pumping system (Chap. 6). In this chapter, we will use results from these earlier chapters to develop the theoretical background required to describe cw laser behavior. The case of transient laser behavior is considered in Chap. 8. The theory developed here uses the so-called rate equation approximation and laser equations are derived on the basis of a simple notion that there should be a balance between the total number of atoms undergoing a transition and the total number of photons being created or annihilated.(1, 2) This theory provides a rather simple and intuitive picture of laser behavior; furthermore it gives sufficiently accurate results for most practical purposes. For a more refined treatment one should use either the semiclassical approach (where matter is quantized while em radiation is treated classically, i.e., through Maxwell's equations) or the full quantum-electrodynamics approach (where both matter and radiation are quantized). We refer the reader elsewhere for these more advanced treatments.(3)


Pump Power Cavity Length Lower Laser Level Slope Efficiency Pump Rate 
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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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