Definition: the factor by which the power of a signal is amplified
Alternative term: gain factor
Author: Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta
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The amplification factor (or gain factor) of an optical amplifier is the factor by which the input power is amplified. For lasers amplifiers, it depends on various details of the laser gain medium and on the degree of its excitation, apart from the optical wavelength and possibly the beam polarization. For optical parametric amplifiers, it depends on the length of the nonlinear crystal, the pump intensity, beam diameters and other factors.
During amplification of an intense optical pulse, the amplification factor may drop due to gain saturation. An effective amplification factor may then be defined as the ratio of output energy and input energy.
An alternative specification of gain is in terms of decibels, calculated as 10 times the logarithm to base 10 of the amplification factor.
See also: gain, optical amplifiers, decibel
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