Owing to the possibility to excite resonantly the electronic energy levels of the laser active ions, the diode laser pumping has a major role in increasing global efficiency of solid-state lasers. Although for the first diode-pumped l-at.% Nd:YAG laser the excitation was made directly into the weakly absorbing metastable level 4F3/2, both for transversely-1 and longitudinally-pumped lasers, 2 this was soon shifted to pumping into the better absorbing level 4F5/2. However, this introduces a parasitic upper quantum defect of ~900 cm −1 between the pumped-and the emitting level that reduces the laser performances. Moreover, all the energy lost in the electron-phonon de-excitation of 4F5/2 to 4F3/2 is transformed into heat and that could induce strong thermo-mechanical or thermo-optical effects that contribute to the limitation of the emitted power.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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