Ceramic laser materials

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The word 'ceramics' is derived from the Greek keramos, meaning pottery and porcelain. The opaque and translucent cement and clay often used in tableware are not appropriate for optical applications because of the high content of optical scattering sources, that is, defects. Recently, scientists have shown that by eliminating the defects, a new, refined ceramic material — polycrystalline ceramic — can be produced. This advanced ceramic material offers practical laser generation and is anticipated to be a highly attractive alternative to conventional glass and single-crystal laser technologies in the future. Here we review the history of the development of ceramic lasers, the principle of laser generation based on this material, some typical results achieved with ceramic lasers so far, and discuss the potential future outlook for the field.

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Figure 1: The microstructure of conventional and advanced transparent ceramics.
Figure 2: Laser oscillation using optical-grade Nd:YAG ceramics.

© 2006 ANNUAL REVIEWS © 1995 ACERS

Figure 3: Large-scale Nd:YAG ceramics developed by Konoshima Chemical.

© 2008 OSA

Figure 4: Composite laser elements fabricated by current ceramic technology.
Figure 5: Gradient-distribution ceramic laser composite.

© 2007 OSA

Figure 6: The growth of SSCG single crystal and its laser performance.

© 2007 OSA

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank V. Lupei, R.L. Byer, S. Nakayama, Y. Iwamoto, T. Kamimura, T. Taira and T. Yamamoto for their evaluations of ceramic lasers. They would also like to thank the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (AOARD) for their support of the development of high-power-density lasers.

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Correspondence to Akio Ikesue.

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Ikesue, A., Aung, Y. Ceramic laser materials. Nature Photon 2, 721–727 (2008) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2008.243

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