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HeNe Laser Flipper Mode Sweep The following animation illustrates how the longitudinal modes of one example of a 2-3 mW HeNe laser that exhibits “flipper” behavior sweep or cycle through the neon gain curve as the laser warms up and the cavity length changes. 200 mm (~8 Inch) Cavity Length Sam's Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved
Cavity Modes and Lasing Modes Cavity modes that fall within the region of the neon gain curve which is greater than the lasing threshold (net gain > 1) will result laser oscillation and a lasing mode with an output power approximately proportional to its amplitude compared to the lasing threshold. These are the longitudinal modes of the laser. The total output power of the laser is equal to the sum of all the longitudinal modes. Sam's Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved
Mode Sweep As the cavity length increases due to thermal expansion, the wavelengths of the cavity modes (and longitudinal modes) increase (moving to the left). When a cavity mode passes the point on the left (longer wavelengths) where the gain becomes less than 1, a new mode will eventually appear on the right to replace it. For this short HeNe laser, at most 3 modes are oscillating at any given time, and only 2 modes when they are on either side of the neon gain curve. Sam's Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved
Sam’s Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved. Polarization Adjacent longitudinal modes in random polarized HeNe lasers are usually orthogonally polarized with respect to an orientation determined by the laser tube construction. These are denoted red and blue. Longitudinal modes in a linearly polarized HeNe laser will all have the same polarization orientation but similar amplitudes for the same size laser.
Sam’s Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved. Mode Flipping Some tubes are not so well behaved. In “flippers”, the modes abruptly swap during mode sweep. The exact cause isn’t known but flipping can be affected by back-reflections and magnetic fields. Flipping may only be present when the tube is cold or warm, but with most tubes is there all the time. Power output is not affected, but the flips may produce sudden changes in power or optical noise if polarization-sensitive components are present.
Sam's Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved
The End Sam’s Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm) Copyright © , Samuel M. Goldwasser, All Rights Reserved.
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