We give a comprehensive overview on passive mode locking of solid-state lasers with slow saturable absorbers, based on analytical and numerical calculations. For picosecond lasers, we present a simple equation to estimate the obtained pulse duration and compare the results to those for mode locking with fast saturable absorbers. We also discuss how much shorter the pulse duration can be compared to the absorber recovery time and present a simple rule. The effect of self-phase modulation is found to be qualitatively different compared to the case of a fast saturable absorber, and the effect of phase changes in the absorber is also discussed. Finally, we discuss various issues concerning soliton mode-locked lasers.
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