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Green Lasers

Author: the photonics expert

Definition: lasers emitting in the green spectral region

More general term: visible lasers

Category: article belongs to category laser devices and laser physics laser devices and laser physics

DOI: 10.61835/lcy   Cite the article: BibTex plain textHTML

This article concerns lasers emitting in the green spectral region, i.e., with a wavelength roughly around 510–570 nm. The choice of laser gain media for such wavelengths is limited, and the performance achievable is typically not as good as e.g. in the infrared spectral region. Nevertheless, green-emitting lasers of various kinds belong to the most often used visible lasers. Some of them are based on nonlinear frequency conversion, namely frequency doubling.

Types of Green Lasers

There are many types of green lasers, which differ substantially e.g. in terms of output power, pulse format and cost:

  • Argon ion lasers, based on amplification in an argon plasma (made with an electrical discharge), are fairly powerful light sources for various wavelengths. The highest power can be achieved in green light at 514.5 nm. It can exceed 20 W, but the power efficiency of such lasers is very poor, so that tens of kilowatts of electric power are required for multi-watt green output, and the cooling system has corresponding dimensions. There are smaller tubes for air-cooled argon lasers, requiring hundreds of watts for generating some tens of milliwatts. The beam quality can be close to diffraction-limited.
  • Helium–neon lasers are most well known as red lasers, but they can also be made to emit a few milliwatts at 543.5 nm.
  • Copper vapor lasers can emit relatively high powers at 510.6 nm. They are based on a pulsed discharge in copper vapor and emit nanosecond pulses.
  • Green laser diodes (or other green semiconductor lasers) are difficult to produce – even more difficult than blue ones. They can emit only a few milliwatts and have relatively short lifetimes, compared with other laser diodes [5]. However, there has been encouraging progress recently [10, 11].
  • Erbium-doped upconversion lasers based on erbium-doped fibers or bulk crystals can emit around 550 nm, typically with some tens of milliwatts of output power and with high beam quality.
  • Praseodymium-doped lasers can emit green light (e.g., Pr3+:YLF at 523 nm), apart from light at various other wavelength. They can be pumped with blue light from laser diodes, for example.
VERDI green laser
Figure 1: Photograph of the VERDI green laser from Coherent. This device contains a diode-pumped vanadate laser with intracavity frequency doubling. The image was kindly provided by Coherent.
green high-power laser
Figure 2: A high-power thin disk laser with intracavity frequency doubling generates 1.3 kW of green light with excellent efficiency. Source: Max Kovalenko, Institut für Strahlwerkzeuge, Stuttgart.


Green lasers are used e.g. as laser pointers, for laser projection displays (as part of RGB sources), for printing, in interferometers, bioinstrumentation, medical scanning, and for pumping of solid-state lasers (e.g. titanium–sapphire lasers).

In laser material processing, green lasers (when compared with near-infrared lasers) can bring benefits via a much higher absorption coefficient e.g. in copper, gold, or silicon. That way, one can work with substantially less laser power, and the processing results are also often substantially better in terms of quality. Therefore, the substantially higher cost per watt is often well justified.

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[1]A. J. Silversmith et al., “Green infrared-pumped erbium upconversion laser”, Appl. Phys. Lett. 51, 1977 (1987); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.98316
[2]F. Tong et al., “551 nm diode-laser-pumped upconversion laser”, Electron. Lett. 25, 1389 (1989); https://doi.org/10.1049/el:19890930
[3]T. Hebert et al., “Blue and green CW upconversion lasing in Er:YLiF4”, Appl. Phys. Lett. 57, 1727 (1990); https://doi.org/10.1063/1.104048
[4]T. J. Whitley et al., “Upconversion pumped green lasing in erbium doped fluorozirconate fibre”, Electron. Lett. 27 (20), 1785 (1991); https://doi.org/10.1049/el:19911110
[5]E. Kato et al., “Significant progress in II-VI blue-green laser diode lifetime”, Electron. Lett. 34, 282 (1998); https://doi.org/10.1049/el:19980229
[6]L. McDonagh and R. Wallenstein, “Low-noise 62 W CW intracavity-doubled TEM00 Nd:YVO4 green laser pumped at 888 nm”, Opt. Lett. 32 (7), 802 (2007); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.32.000802
[7]C. Stolzenburg et al., “Cavity-dumped intracavity-frequency-doubled Yb:YAG thin-disk laser with 100 W average power”, Opt. Lett. 32 (9), 1123 (2007); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.32.001123
[8]J.-Y. Kim et al., “Highly efficient green VECSEL with intra-cavity diamond heat spreader”, Electron. Lett. 43 (2), 105 (2007); https://doi.org/10.1049/el:20072787
[9]O. B. Jensen et al., “1.5 W green light generation by single-pass second harmonic generation of a single-frequency tapered diode laser”, Opt. Express 17 (8), 6532 (2009); https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.17.006532
[10]T. Miyoshi et al., “510–-515 nm InGaN-based green laser diodes on c-plane GaN substrate”, Appl. Phys. Express 2, 062201 (2009); https://doi.org/10.1143/APEX.2.062201
[11]H. Ohta et al., “Future of group-III nitride semiconductor green laser diodes”, J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 27 (11), B45 (2010); https://doi.org/10.1364/JOSAB.27.000B45
[12]T. Meier et al., “Continuous-wave single-frequency 532 nm laser source emitting 130 W into the fundamental transversal mode”, Opt. Lett. 35 (22), 3742 (2010); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.35.003742
[13]R. Cieslak and W. A. Clarkson, “Internal resonantly enhanced frequency doubling of continuous-wave fiber lasers”, Opt. Lett. 36 (10), 1896 (2011); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.36.001896
[14]R. Bhandari and T. Taira, “>6 MW peak power at 532 nm from passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/Cr4+:YAG microchip laser”, Opt. Express 19 (20), 19135 (2011); https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.19.019135
[15]H. Chi et al., “Demonstration of a kilowatt average power, 1 J, green laser”, Opt. Lett. 45 (24), 6803 (2020); https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.412975

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