Encyclopedia … combined with a great Buyer's Guide!

Laser Optics

Definition: optical elements and systems used with lasers - either in lasers or for transmitting and manipulating laser light

German: Laseroptik

Categories: general opticsgeneral optics, laser devices and laser physicslaser devices and laser physics


Cite the article using its DOI: https://doi.org/10.61835/ypn

Get citation code: Endnote (RIS) BibTex plain textHTML

Laser optics essentially means optical elements and systems which are used with lasers – either as parts of lasers or for transmitting and manipulating laser beams or other forms of laser light.

Typical Requirements

Some typical requirements on laser optics, as compared with optics for other purposes such as imaging, are:

  • Generally, optical losses need to be minimized, particularly for components which are used within laser resonators. Highly reflecting laser errors, for example, typically have reflectivities like 99.9% or higher, so that the total parasitic losses the round-trip in a resonator often remain well below 1%.
  • The surface quality of laser mirrors, prisms etc. generally needs to be rather high, e.g. with an r.m.s. roughness below λ/10. That, however, is similar for imaging optics such as photographic objectives.
  • Particularly for use with pulsed lasers with high peak power and pulse energy (mostly Q-switched lasers), laser optics needs to have a high optical damage threshold.
  • In many cases, good performance is required only at specific optical wavelengths, i.e., at certain laser lines, which are often in the infrared spectral region. Therefore, achromatic optics are often not required. In some cases, however, one requires specified properties at multiple wavelengths, e.g. for a laser wavelength and for frequency-doubled light. Also, some lasers, e.g. ultrashort pulse lasers with particularly short pulse durations, have a substantial optical bandwidth and therefore require optics with suitable broadband properties, for example in terms of reflection bandwidth and chromatic dispersion.

Optics in Lasers

A range of passive optical components is often used in lasers:

Further, some kind of laser gain medium is required, which may for example be a laser crystal, a rare-earth doped fiber, a semiconductor gain chip (e.g. in an external-cavity diode laser or a vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser) or a gas discharge tube.

In some cases, one requires some kind of optical modulator – for example, an acousto-optic or electro-optic modulator for Q switching or mode locking.

Optics for Laser Light

Outside a laser resonator, laser light often needs to be transported and manipulated, for which different kinds of optical components and systems can be used:

More to Learn

Encyclopedia articles:


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 110 suppliers for laser optics. Among them:

Questions and Comments from Users

Here you can submit questions and comments. As far as they get accepted by the author, they will appear above this paragraph together with the author’s answer. The author will decide on acceptance based on certain criteria. Essentially, the issue must be of sufficiently broad interest.

Please do not enter personal data here; we would otherwise delete it soon. (See also our privacy declaration.) If you wish to receive personal feedback or consultancy from the author, please contact him, e.g. via e-mail.

Spam check:

By submitting the information, you give your consent to the potential publication of your inputs on our website according to our rules. (If you later retract your consent, we will delete those inputs.) As your inputs are first reviewed by the author, they may be published with some delay.


Connect and share this with your network:

Follow our specific LinkedIn pages for more insights and updates: