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Guide The Ionization of Argon and Neon by Neutral Argon Beam

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The camaraderie with peers is a priceless benefit and has drawn many members back to conferences year after year. Receptions and evening activities provide opportunity for continued networking and learning with peers and vendors. The most commonly used neon transition in these lasers produces red light at By using highly reflective mirrors designed for one of these many possible lasing transitions, a given He-Ne's output is made to operate at a single wavelength.

They are not sources of high power laser light. Probably one of the most important features of these lasers is that they are highly stable, both in terms of their wavelength mode stability and intensity of their output light low jitter in power level.

The Ionization of Argon and Neon by Neutral Argon Beams - CaltechAUTHORS

For these reasons, He-Ne lasers are often used to stabilize other lasers. They are also used in applications, such as holography, where mode stability is important. Until the mid 's, He-Ne lasers were the dominant type of lasers produced for low power applications - from range finding to scanning to optical transmission, to laser pointers, etc.

Application of Gas Lasers

Recently, however, other types of lasers, most notably the semiconductor lasers, seem to have won the competition because of reduced costs. The above energy level diagram shows the two excited states of helium atom, the 2 3S and 2 1S, that get populated as a result of the electromagnetic pumping in the discharge.

Ion-beam excitation of liquid argon

Both of these states are metastable and do not allow de-excitations via radiative transitions. Instead, the helium atoms give off their energy to neon atoms through collisional excitation. In this way the 4s and 5s levels in neon get populated. These are the two upper lasing levels, each for a separate set of lasing transitions. Radiative decay from the 5s to the 4s levels are forbidden.

So, the 4p and 3p levels serve as the lower lasing levels and rapidly decay into the metastable 3s level. In this way population inversion is easily achieved in the He-Ne. The In most He-Ne lasers the gas, a mixture of 5 parts helium to 1 part neon, is contained in a sealed glass tube with a narrow 2 to 3 mm diameter bore that is connected to a larger size tube called a ballast, as shown above.

Argon-ion Lasers

Typically the laser's optical cavity mirrors, the high reflector and the output coupler, form the two sealing caps for the narrow bore tube. High voltage electrodes create a narrow electric discharge along the length of this tube, which then leads to the narrow beam of laser light. The function of the ballast is to maintain the desired gas mixture.

Argon - Everything you need to know about this element

To further prolong tube lifetime some of these lasers also use "getters", often metals such as titanium, that absorb impurities in the gas. Above photograph shows a commercial He-Ne tube. The thicker cylinder closest to the meter-stick shown for scale is the ballast. The thinner tube houses the resonant cavity where the lasing occurs. Notice the two mirrors that seal the two ends of the bore.

For mode stability reasons, these mirrors are concave; they serve as the output coupler and the high reflector. A typical commercially available He-Ne produces about a few mW of This means that for every 1 Watt of input power from the power supply, 1 mW of laser light is produced. Still, because of their long operating lifetime of 20, hours or more and their relatively low manufacturing cost, He-Ne lasers are among the most popular gas lasers. Another commonly used gas laser is the argon-ion laser.

In these lasers, as in the He-Ne the lasing transition type is atomic. But instead of a neutral atom, here the lasing is the result of the de-excitations of the ion. It takes more energy to ionize an atom than to excite it.


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By the same token, more energy can be obtained from the de-excitation of the ion. Because of this, argon-ion lasers can produce uv light with a wavelength as short as nm. In addition, these lasers can produce much more power than He-Ne lasers. Argon-ion lasers typically range in output power from one to as much as 20 W. At the higher power levels their output is multi-mode, i. Some of these wavelengths are:. Because of these two reasons, high power and multicolor output, argon-ion is one of the most commonly used lasers in laser light shows, as well as in a variety of applications.

The make-up of a typical argon-ion laser is very similar to a He-Ne's, but with a few slight differences. First, these lasers are much larger in size. Second, the optical cavity of these lasers is built external to the tube. This is partly because of the high power operation of the laser and partly because such external arrangement allows for the use of optional wavelength selection optics within the optical cavity. A prism or a diffraction grating located just before the high reflecting mirror selects only one of the lasing transitions for amplification within the cavity; other wavelengths are deflected out of the resonant cavity.

In this way these ion lasers can operate in a so called single mode. With this arrangement the two mirrors holders on opposite sides of the laser tube are typically attached together with an invar rod for thermal stabilization Invar is a steel alloy that contains nickel. Its most valued property is that it expands and contracts very little when its temperature changes.

As a result, when the laser's temperature changes as it heats up due to the large electric current within the electromagnetic pump discharge, the optical path length, and therefore the modal character of the laser output, remains relatively unchanged. Finally, because of their high power argon-ion lasers require active cooling.


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  • The Ionization of Argon and Neon by Neutral Argon Beam.
  • Types of Gas Lasers;

This is most commonly accomplished by circulating water, either directly from tap or from commercially produced chillers, in closed coils that surround the plasma a gas of charged ions tube and parts of the electric power supply. Some of the lower powered argon-ion lasers are just air cooled using a fan, which makes them less cumbersome to use.

Helium Neon (He-Ne) Lasers

The above two photographs show a 5 W argon-ion laser. Notice the one-meter long laser tube, the large ballast, and the umbilical cord that connects to the laser power supply. This cord contains not only the power line that supplies the laser with the electric power to generate the plasma, but also the water lines that circulate water to cool the laser. Another type of ion laser, the krypton laser, operates very much the same as the argon-ion laser. To take advantage of all the colors available in both argon and krypton lasers, manufacturers make argon-krypton ion lasers by using a suitable mixture of these two gases.

The mixed gas lasers are very useful for entertainment applications because, in addition to many colors, they can also produce a "white" beam. Why is the word "white" in quotations? In both of these lasers the gaseous medium is made-up of molecules, which in addition to electronic energy levels of atoms also have both molecular vibrational and rotational energy levels. The vibrational energy levels are similar to finer spaced ladder rungs that span two rungs of the electronic energy levels.

The rotational levels are still more finely spaced rungs that span the vibrational rungs! In these gas lasers the lasing transitions occur among the vibrational levels, typically belonging to different electronic levels. Above diagram shows two electronic and several of their associated vibrational levels for a hypothetical molecule.

Electronic levels are shown as "bent rungs" because in the molecule atoms can change their separation distance and therefore their electronic energy.