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The Photonics Spotlight

The Plague of a Narrow Emission Linewidth

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, because its location is permanent. See also the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology.

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