Optical Engineering • Open AccessReview of alkali laser research and development
In this review we present an analysis of optically pumped alkali laser research and development from the first proposal in 1958 by Schawlow and Townes to the current state. In spite of the long history, real interest in alkali vapor lasers has appeared in the past decade, after the demonstration of really efficient lasing in Rb and Cs vapors in 2003 and the first successful power scaling experiments. This interest was stimulated by the possibility of using efficient diode lasers for optical pumping of the alkali lasers and by the fact that these lasers can produce a high quality and high power output beam from a single aperture. We present a review of the most important achievements in high power alkali laser research and development, discuss some problems existing in this field, and provide future perspectives in diode pumped alkali laser development.