RP Photonics logo
RP Photonics
Encyclopedia
Consulting Software Encyclopedia Buyer's Guide

Short address: rpp-con.com

Dr. Paschotta, the founder of RP Photonics, supports your R & D with his deep expertise. Save time and money with efficient support!

Short address: rpp-soft.com

Powerful simulation software for fiber lasers and amplifiers, resonator design, pulse propagation and multilayer coating design.

Short address: rpp-enc.com

The famous Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology provides a wealth of high-quality scientific and technical information.

Short address: rpp-bg.com

In the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide, you easily find suppliers for photo­nics products. As a supp­lier, you can profit from enhanced entries!

Learn on lasers and photonics every day!
VL logo part of the
Virtual
Library

Coherence Length

<<<  |  >>>  |  Feedback

Buyer's Guide

Use the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide to find suppliers for photonics products! You will hardly find a more convenient resource.

Ask RP Photonics for advice on how to measure the coherence length e.g. of a laser.

Definition: a measure of temporal coherence, expressed as the propagation distance over which the coherence significantly decays

German: Kohärenzlänge

Categories: general optics, nonlinear optics

How to cite the article

The coherence length can be used for quantifying the degree of temporal (not spatial!) coherence as the propagation length (and thus propagation time) over which coherence degrades significantly. It is defined as the coherence time times the vacuum velocity of light.

For light with a Lorentzian optical spectrum, the coherence length can be calculated as

coherence length

where Δν is the (full width at half-maximum) linewidth (optical bandwidth). However, such relations are not valid in cases where the coherence function has a more complicated shape, as is the case for, e.g., a frequency comb.

Calculating the Coherence Length

Center wavelength:
Bandwidth (frequency): calc
Bandwidth (wavelength): calc
Coherence length: calc

After you have modified some values, click a "calc" button to recalculate the field left of it.

interferometer setup

Figure 1: Setup of an interferometer, where the coherence length of light is important.

The reason for often using the term coherence length instead of coherence time is that the optical time delays involved in some experiment are often determined by optical path lengths. For example, the interferometer in Figure 1 shows pronounced interference fringes only if the coherence length of the laser light is at least as long as the path-length difference of the two arms. Also, in a setup for making holographic recordings, coherence between two beams with a somewhat different optical path length is required, so that the coherence length of the light source should be longer than the maximum occurring path-length difference. In addition to holography, a number of other applications may require a certain coherence length; see the article on coherence.

Some lasers, particularly single-frequency solid-state lasers, can have very long coherence lengths, e.g. 9.5 km for a Lorentzian spectrum with a linewidth of 10 kHz. For monolithic semiconductor lasers, even when operating in a single-frequency mode, the coherence length is typically shorter by several orders of magnitude. The coherence length is limited by phase noise which can result from, e.g., spontaneous emission in the gain medium. The quantum noise influence is weak (allowing for a long coherence length) when the circulating power in the laser is high, the resonator losses per round trip are low, and the round-trip time is long.

Coherence Length in Nonlinear Optics

An unfortunate use of the term coherence length is common in nonlinear optics: for example, in second-harmonic generation, the coherence length is often understood as the length over which fundamental and harmonic wave get out of phase (more precisely, the phase difference accumulated over this length is π). This is inconsistent with the general notion of coherence, because a predictable phase relationship (strong phase correlation) is definitely maintained over more than this length, although there is a systematic evolution of the relative phase.

See also: coherence, coherence time, linewidth, speckle, Spotlight article 2006-09-22

How do you rate this article?

Your general impression: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Technical quality: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Usefulness: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Readability: don't know poor satisfactory good excellent
Comments:

Found any errors? Suggestions for improvements? Do you know a better web page on this topic?

Spam protection: (enter the value of 5 + 8 in this field!)

If you want a response, you may leave your e-mail address in the comments field, or directly send an e-mail.

If you like our website, you may also want to get our newsletters!

arrow

Fiber Optics Software

RP Fiber Power is the ideal tool for

signal parameters beam propagation

Further features:

Use RP Fiber Power to boost the productivity of your R & D!

– Show all banners –

– Get your own banner! –