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Pump Parameter

Definition: the ratio of pump power and threshold pump power of a laser

German: Pumpparameter

Category: laser devices and laser physics

Units: (dimensionless number)

Formula symbol: <$r$>


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The pump parameter <$r$> of a laser is the ratio of pump power and threshold pump power. Usually, this quantity is used for optically pumped lasers in continuous-wave operation.

Most lasers are operated with a pump parameter between 3 and 10, i.e. significantly but not very far above threshold. This is because extreme values often have some disadvantages:

  • For small pump parameters (close to 1), the power conversion efficiency is reduced, the output power depends sensitively on the pump power, and the relaxation oscillations are weakly damped.
  • For very large pump parameters, diffraction-limited beam quality is often difficult to achieve (at least in bulk lasers), since e.g. small tails of the pump intensity profile can excite higher-order modes. Also, the power efficiency may be degraded due to the strong influence of parasitic resonator losses.

Extreme values of pump parameters are nevertheless required in some cases:

Particularly in the context of four-level lasers, it can be convenient to use the pump parameter <$r$> in equations, as it is most easy to evaluate in an experiment, and thus often well known. In four-level lasers, the intracavity optical intensity in the gain medium (in the steady state, assuming a flat-top mode profile) is (<$r - 1$>) times the saturation intensity. Also, there is a simple equation for the frequency of relaxation oscillations, containing the parameter <$r$>. However, such equations then often do not hold for (quasi-)three-level gain media.

See also: threshold pump power, lasers, relaxation oscillations, four-level and three-level laser gain media, spotlight 2007-01-21

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