Definition: a device producing an oscillation -- in contrast to an amplifier, for example
Category: laser devices and laser physics
Author: Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta
How to cite the article; suggest additional literature
A laser can be considered as a high-frequency optical oscillator (with optical frequencies normally being of the order of hundreds of terahertz) which consists of an optical amplifier (a laser gain medium) and an optical resonator for optical feedback.
In laser physics, the term laser oscillator is sometimes used for a laser device in order to distinguish it explicitly from an optical amplifier, where there is amplification by stimulated emission but no laser oscillation. Also, a pure oscillator is distinguished from an oscillator–amplifier combination. The term occurs e.g. within the terms master oscillator power amplifier and master oscillator fiber amplifier.
Similarly, an optical parametric oscillator is a device containing an optical parametric amplifier within an optical resonator. In contrast to a laser oscillator, one utilizes a kind of nonlinear amplification.
Besides, there are opto-electronic oscillators, generating trains of short light pulses.
See also: lasers, laser resonators, optical amplifiers
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