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Proceedings Paper

Theory of laser noise
Author(s): Melvin Lax
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Paper Abstract

We summarize the basic problems in laser coherence and the concepts and techniques needed to solve them. Special techniques needed to handle partition noise in semiconductor lasers will be touched on. We address the problem of how a self-sustained oscillator works. Why is the laser line so narrow? Why does a small amount of noise produce a broadening of the line as opposed to additive side bands? What is the role of zero point oscillations and spontaneous emission in determining the line width? In what sense can the transition to a lasing state be described as a phase transition? The concepts used to deal with the response of a laser system involve a quasi-Markoffian description. This in turn validates a quantum regression theorem which relates the spectrum of the noise to the transport response even in a system far from equilibrium. A significant simplification is made by introducing non-commuting (quantum) noise sources. The techniques required in the solution of laser noise problems involve a multi-time correspondence between quantum variables and c-number random variables that reduces a quantum stochastic problem to a classical stochastic problem. Adiabatic elimination is used to eliminate the fast variables to obtain a reduced problem for the fields alone or the fields and some total atomic variables (total inversion and polarization). Reduction to a rotating wave version of the van der Pol oscillator and numerical solution of the Fokker-Planck equation yields (a) the line shape (b) the spectrum of intensity fluctuations and (c) the distribution of photocounts observed over some time interval. Comparison of theoretical results with later experiments will be presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 March 1991
PDF: 19 pages
Proc. SPIE 1376, Laser Noise, (1 March 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.24986
Show Author Affiliations
Melvin Lax, City College/CUNY and AT&T Bell Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1376:
Laser Noise
Rajarshi Roy, Editor(s)

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