, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 201-217

Characterization of the noise in continuously operating mode-locked lasers

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An experimental and theoretical investigation of the fluctuations of the pulses from continuous-wave mode-locked lasers is presented. It is shown that these fluctuations can be detected and quantitatively characterized from measurements of the power spectrum of the light intensity. Such power spectra can be measured with great accuracy by shining the laser output on a suitable photodetector and by processing the detector signal with the use of an electronic spectrum analyzer. Different types of noise such as fluctuations of the pulse energy, pulse repetition time, and pulse duration, can be readily recognized from their characteristic spectral signature. Experimental results of noise measurements are presented for a synchronously mode-locked dye laser pumped by an acousto-optically mode-locked argon ion laser, and also for a colliding pulse passively mode-locked dye laser.