, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 819-866

Graded reflectivity mirror unstablelaser resonators

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The graded reflectivity mirror (GRM) unstable resonator has become the resonator of choice for many solid-state laser systems. This tutorial review discusses through a step-by-step approach the inner workings of such resonators, in order to identify for potential designers and users tradeoffs which are involved in their design. Geometrical and diffractive contributions to the mode definition are discussed using a canonical formulation applicable to all types of unstable resonators. Particular attention is given to super-Gaussian resonators, which are nowadays the most widely used. The beam-shaping action of an amplifying medium is illustrated through a practical example, which makes clear the necessity to use a proper simulation software to predict correctly the behaviour of the resonator.

This revised version was published online in November 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.