Master of Science (MS)
Physics and Astronomy
LASCAD, Lasers, Optics, Simulations, Thermal damage, Zemax
Neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate (Nd:YVO4) is a commonly used gain medium in Diode Pumped Solid State (DPSS) lasers, but high heat loading of Nd:YVO4 at high pump powers (> 5 W) leads to thermal distortions and crystal fracture, which limits the utility of Nd:YVO4 for high power applications. In this thesis, a Nd:YVO4 crystal suffered thermal damage during experiments for investigating the optical gain characteristics of the crystal. This thesis examines the thermal damage mechanisms in detail. Principally, laser induced melting, as well as laser induced thermal stress fracture were studied, all in the absence of stimulated emission in the crystal. The optical system for coupling the pump laser light into the crystal was first simulated in Zemax, an optical design software, and the simulations were then compared to the experimental coupling efficiency results, which were found to be in agreement. The simulations for the laser coupling system were then used in conjunction with LASCAD, a finite element analysis software, to obtain the temperatures inside the crystal, as a function of optical power coupled into the crystal. The temperature simulations were then compared to the experimental results, which were in excellent agreement, and the temperature simulations were then generalized to other crystal geometries and Nd doping levels. Zemax and LASCAD were also used to simulate the thermal stress in the crystal as a function of the coupled optical power, and the simulations were compared to experiments, both of which were found to be in agreement. The thermal stress simulations were then generalized to different crystal geometries and Nd doping levels as well.
Nagi, Richie, "Simulation of Laser Induced Thermal Damage in Nd:YVO4 Crystals." (2017). Master's Theses. 4814.