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Laser Lines

Definition: narrow spectral lines obtained from lasers

German: Laserlinien

Category: lasers

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Many lasers can produce light only at certain optical wavelengths, or more precisely within quite narrow wavelength regions (spectral lines). Those are determined by the utilized laser transitions of the laser gain medium, which often have a narrow bandwidth of e.g. below 1 nm. The optical spectrum of such a laser source is necessarily a “line”, i.e., it exhibits a significant power spectral density only within a very narrow wavelength region.

The linewidth (optical bandwidth) of the laser light is sometimes similar to the bandwidth of the used laser transition, but in many cases it is even smaller by orders of magnitude. In particular, single-frequency lasers usually have a very narrow emission linewidth, often in the region of some kilohertz, in extreme cases even well below 1 Hz. See the article on narrow-linewidth lasers for more details.

Various kinds of optical components have been developed for use with specific laser lines. This has led to the term laser line optics, or more specifically to terms like laser line mirrors, laser line polarizers, etc.

Suppression of Unwanted Laser Lines

Many laser gain media have multiple laser lines. In most cases, lasing occurs only on one of those: the one which first reaches the laser threshold. Which line is selected depends not only on the laser gain at that wavelength, but also on the resonator losses. One can often obtain lasing at “weaker” lines when suppressing laser action at other lines, e.g. by using at least one resonator mirror which has a low reflectivity (high transmissivity) at the unwanted wavelengths.

For example, Nd:YAG lasers would usually operate at 1064 nm, the by far strongest line, but lasing is also possible at 946 nm, 1123 nm and 1338 nm, for example.

Wavelengths of Common Laser Lines

The following table, sorted by wavelength, contains common lines mostly from solid-state lasers and gas lasers. Also, some frequently used wavelengths from sources with frequency doubling, frequency tripling or frequency quadrupling are listed.

Various lasers with broadband gain media (e.g. Ti:sapphire) are not listed, because they are not limited to certain laser lines.

WavelengthLaser type or gain medium
116 nmhydrogen
123 nmhydrogen
157 nmF2 (fluorine)
160 nmhydrogen
193 nmArF (argon fluoride)
248 nmKrF (krypton fluoride)
257 nmYb:YAG, frequency-quadrupled
266 nmNd:YAG or Nd:YVO4, frequency-quadrupled
282 nmXeBr (xenon bromide)
308 nmXeCl (xenon chloride)
325 nmHe–Cd (helium–cadmium)
337.1 nmN2 (nitrogen)
343 nmYb:YAG, frequency-tripled
351 nmXeF (xenon fluoride)
351 nmargon ion
355 nmNd:YAG or Nd:YVO4, frequency-tripled
457.9 nmargon ion
480 nmTm (thulium) (upconversion)
488.0 nmargon ion
510.6 nmcopper vapor
514.5 nmargon ion
515 nmYb:YAG, frequency-doubled
532 nmNd:YAG or Nd:YVO4, frequency-doubled
543.5 nmhelium–neon
578.2 nmcopper vapor
594.1 nmhelium–neon
611.8 nmhelium–neon
632.8 nmhelium–neon
647.1 nmkrypton ion
694.3 nmruby
914 nmNd:YVO4
1030 nmYb:YAG
1047 nmNd:YLF
1050 nmYb:YAG
1053 nmNd:YLF
1064 nmNd:YAG, Nd:YVO4
1123 nmNd:YAG
1152 nmhelium–neon
1319 nmNd:YAG
1338 nmNd:YAG
1342 nmNd:YVO4
1415 nmNd:YAG
1444 nmNd:YAG
1.15 μmhelium–neon
1.52 μmhelium–neon
1617 nmEr:YAG
1645 nmEr:YAG
2.0 μmTm:YAG
2.1 μmHo:YAG
2.94 μmEr:YAG
3.39 μmhelium–neon
4.8 μmCO (carbon monoxide)
5.5 μmCO (carbon monoxide)
8.3 μmCO (carbon monoxide)
9.4 μmCO2 (carbon dioxide)
10.6 μmCO2 (carbon dioxide)

See also: optical spectrum, spectral lines, wavelength, linewidth, laser line optics
and other articles in the category lasers

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