During the past few years a unique low-pressure low-voltage CO2 laser discharge technology has been developed. It is based on a triode electrode scheme that operates at low pressure and is capable of a high gain of 4 %/cm with a very uniform rectangular cross-section plasma for >100-μsec time intervals. This technology has been demonstrated and used in the development of CO2 lasers. We have used the performance characteristics of the new discharge technology to reevaluate the concept of a CO2 laser preamplifier for enhancement of detection sensitivity on the CO2 laser lines near 10-μm wavelength.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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