Theory of an Inhomogeneously Broadened Laser Amplifier Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent advances in laser technology have led to the production of ultrashort electromagnetic pulses of very high peak power. In this paper we develop a theory which describes the transient behavior of such pulses in a laser amplifier. The effects of atomic coherence and inhomogeneous broadening, necessary for a complete treatment of the problem, are included. In the present development, the degree of homogeneous and inhomogeneous broadening is variable. The two-level active atoms are characterized by a phase memory time T2 and an inhomogeneous frequency distribution (which leads to a reversible decay time T2*). The field (Maxwell) and atomic (Schrdinger) equations are coupled in a self-consistent manner as in Lamb's theory of an optical maser. The resulting equations are solved analytically in certain limits, while the general case is integrated numerically. The emphasis is placed on the situation in which T2* and the pulse width are much shorter than T2. Thus our main effort is devoted to the physics of the inhomogeneously broadened system. The theory itself, however, contains the effects of both forms of broadening. The basic difference between inhomogeneous and homogeneous broadening is discussed. In the former case, the decay of radiation is caused by the dephasing of dipoles, and is reversible. The atomic memory is retained during the dephasing, and an internal reflection of the atomic coordinates, as is exemplified in the "photon echo" process, will cause the dipoles to rephase. The phonon interruptions or atomic collisions that bring about the homogeneous broadening are random processes which lead to an irreversible destruction of the atomic phase memory. The implications of the reversible versus irreversible decay processes are seen to have important consequences in the problem of pulse amplification. 1969 The American Physical Society.

published proceedings

  • Physical Review

author list (cited authors)

  • HOPE, F. A., & Scully, M. O.

citation count

  • 160

complete list of authors

  • HOPE, FREDERIC A||Scully, Marlan O

publication date

  • March 1969