Thermal tensing in solid state laser media is a key to the design and performance of solid state lasers. When a lasing medium is uniformly excited by optical pumping, the thermal gradient ∇ produces a spatial index gradient ∇ n. In a rod geometry, the radial index gradient, dn/dr, gives rise to a thermal lens, which can vary substantially during the time of a pump pulse. Experimental and theoretical results for ruby and Nd:YAG laser rods show both divergent and convergent tensing due to the changing distribution of heat with time.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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