Working of Ruby laser

In the last article, I have discussed construction of ruby laser. In this article, I will discuss working of ruby laser.

Ruby is a three level laser system. Suppose there are three levels E1, E2 and (E3 & E4). E1 is the ground level, E2 is the metastable level, E3 and E4 are the bands. E3 & E4 are considered as only one level because they are very closed to each other.

Pumping: The ruby crystal is placed inside a xenon flash lamp and the flash lamp is connected to a capacitor which discharges a few thousand joules of energy in a few milliseconds. A part of this energy is absorbed by chromium ions in the ground  state. Thus optical pumping raises the chromium ions to energy levels inside the bands E3 and E4. This process is called stimulated absorption. The transition to bands E3 and E4 are caused by absorption of radiations corresponding to wavelengths approximately 6600 angstroms and 4000 angstroms respectively. The levels inside the bands E3 and E4 are also known as pumping levels.

Achievement of population inversion: Cr3+ ions in the excited state loose a part of their energy during interaction with crystal lattice and decay to the metastable state E2. Thus, the transition from excited states to metastable state is non-radiative transition or in other words there is no emission of photons. As E2 is a metastable state, so chromium ions will stay there for longer time. Hence, the number of chromium ions goes on increasing in E2 state, while due to pumping , the number in the ground state E1 goes on decreasing. As a result, the number of chromium ions become more in excited state(metastable state) as compared to ground state E1. Hence, the population inversion is achieved between states E2 and E1.

Achievement of laser: Few of the chromium ions will come back from E2 to E1 by the process of spontaneous emission by emitting photons. The wavelength of a photon is 6943 Å. This photon travels through the ruby rod and if it is moving in a direction parallel to the axis of the crystal, then it is reflected to and fro by the silvered ends of the ruby rod until it stimulates  the other excited ions and cause it to emit a fresh photon in phase with the stimulating photon. Thus, the reflections will result in stimulated emission and it will result in the amplification of the stimulated emitting photons. This stimulated emission is the laser transition.

The two stimulated emitted photons will knock out more photons by stimulating the chromium ions and their total number will be four and so on. This process is repeated again and again, thus photons multiply. When the photon beam become sufficiently intense, then a very powerful and narrow beam of red light of wavelength 6943 Å emerges through the partially silvered end of the ruby crystal.

In the energy level diagram, E2 is the upper laser level and E1 is the lower laser level because laser beam is achieved in between these levels. Thus, the ruby laser fits into the definition of three level laser system.

Output: The output wavelength of ruby laser is 6943 Å and output power is 10 raise to power 4 to 10 raise to power 6 watts and it is in the form of pulses.

Note: In next article, I will explain the spiking in ruby laser. Meanwhile, try to make the working diagram yourself. In case of problem, contact me.

Reference: This article is referred from my authored book “optics and lasers” having ISBN 81-272-2948-2. In case of any doubt, post in the comment section.

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