Typical pulse energies from Q-switched lasers range from microjoules to millijoules, and for large systems to multiple joules or even kilojoules.
Mode-locked lasers achieve much lower pulse energies (picojoules, nanojoules or sometimes several microjoules) due to their high pulse repetition rates and sometimes due to limiting nonlinear effects in the laser resonator.
Measurement of Pulse Energies
Pulse Energy from Average Power and Repetition Rate
For regular pulse trains with high repetition rate, the (usually low) pulse energy is often calculated by dividing the average power (measured e.g. with a power meter) by the pulse repetition rate. This is a valid procedure provided that the energy emitted between the pulses is negligible. However, there are cases where, e.g., a mode-locked laser emits a pulse train together with a low-level background emission. Even if the background power level is far below the peak power, the background can significantly contribute to the average power. If, e.g., a photodetector has an insufficient dynamic range for testing this, it can be useful to test the conversion efficiency of a frequency doubler in a carefully controlled situation in the low-conversion regime.
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