, Volume 103, Issue 4, pp 819-824

Limitations of an optically pumped rubidium laser imposed by atom recycle rate

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A rubidium laser pumped on the 52S1/2–52P3/2 D2 transition by a pulsed dye laser at pump intensities exceeding 3.5 MW/cm2 (>1000 times threshold) has been demonstrated. Output energies as high as 12 μJ/pulse are limited by the rate for collision relaxation of the pumped 2P3/2 state to the upper laser 2P1/2 state. More than 250 photons are available for every rubidium atom in the pumped volume during each pulse. For modest alkali atom and ethane spin–orbit relaxer concentrations, the gain medium can only process about 50 photons/atom during the 2–8 ns pump pulse. At 110°C and 550 Torr of ethane, the system is bottlenecked in the 2P3/2 state and all of the incident photons cannot be absorbed. The output energy is linearly dependent on pump pulse duration for a given pump energy. The highly saturated pump limit of the recently developed three-level model for diode pumped alkali lasers (DPALs) is developed. The system efficiency based on absorbed photons approaches 36% even for these extreme pump conditions.