Why is the Laser Line So Narrow? A Theory of Single-Quasimode Laser Operation Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous theories of laser radiation have described the electromagnetic field in terms of a discrete set of quasimodes (Fox and Li "modes") of the laser cavity. Each quasimode was assumed to have a finite quality factor Q. In steady state (when gain due to lasing atoms cancels the losses) and in the absence of noise sources, the semiclassical theory predicts a -function line shape. In the present semiclassical analysis (fluctuations are ignored), this theory is generalized for a maser with a cavity having a semitransparent wall as one of the mirrors so that there are now many modes of the universe corresponding to each Fox-Li-type quasimode. It is demonstrated that the normal modes of the universe associated with a single Fox-Li "mode" may, under proper conditions, lock together and the -function laser line shape may be regained. Specifically, we investigate the conditions under which the coupled multimode equations associated with laser oscillation can be reduced to an equation of the form found in the usual single-quasimode theory. 1973 The American Physical Society.

published proceedings

  • Physical Review A

author list (cited authors)

  • Lang, R., Scully, M. O., & Lamb, W. E.

citation count

  • 183

complete list of authors

  • Lang, Roy||Scully, Marlan O||Lamb, Willis E

publication date

  • May 1973