Lasers and Coherent Light Sources

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This chapter describes lasers and other sources of coherent light that operate in a wide wavelength range. First, the general principles for the generation of coherent continuous-wave and pulsed radiation are treated including the interaction of radiation with matter, the properties of optical resonators and their modes as well as such processes as Q-switching and mode-locking. The general introduction is followed by sections on numerous types of lasers, the emphasis being on todayʼs most important sources of coherent light, in particular on solid-state lasers and several types of gas lasers. An important part of the chapter is devoted to the generation of coherent radiation by nonlinear processes with optical parametric oscillators, difference- and sum-frequency generation, and high-order harmonics. Radiation in the extended ultraviolet (EUV) and x-ray ranges can be generated by free electron lasers (FEL) and advanced x-ray sources. Ultrahigh light intensities up to 1021 W/cm2 open the door to studies of relativistic laser–matter interaction and laser particle acceleration. The chapter closes with a section on laser stabilization.