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The Photonics Spotlight

The Plague of a Narrow Emission Linewidth

Posted on 2007-06-24 as a part of the Photonics Spotlight (available as e-mail newsletter!)

Permanent link: https://www.rp-photonics.com/spotlight_2007_06_24.html

Author: Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta, RP Photonics Consulting GmbH

Abstract: Emission of light with narrow linewidth is a special features of lasers, which can often enough cause enormous trouble. The article gives examples in the context of digital laser projection displays, interference effects in cameras, and problems with nonlinearities in optical fibers.

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

Ref.: encyclopedia articles on linewidth, coherence, interference, speckle, narrow-linewidth lasers

Lasers are often celebrated for their narrow emission linewidth, or high spectral brightness. Indeed this is one of the qualities which distinguish laser light from the output of most other light sources. However, a narrow linewidth can also be a plague:

I have seen quite a few cases where a larger laser linewidth would have helped to avoid a lot of trouble, but was difficult to obtain. For example, it would be nice to have laser diodes emitting e.g. a few milliwatts of power in multiple resonator modes, but only the higher-power versions can usually expected to exhibit multimode emission. Note that operating such a laser only slightly above threshold is no solution, since one will then usually obtain single-mode operation.

This article is a posting of the Photonics Spotlight, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page and cite it, because its location is permanent. See also the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology.

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