A digital laser for on-demand laser modes.

Nature communications

PubMedID: 23907358

Ngcobo S, Litvin I, Burger L, Forbes A. A digital laser for on-demand laser modes. Nat Commun. 2013;42289.
Customizing the output beam shape from a laser invariably involves specialized optical elements in the form of apertures, diffractive optics and free-form mirrors. Such optics require considerable design and fabrication effort and suffer from the further disadvantage of being immutably connected to the selection of a particular spatial mode. Here we overcome these limitations with the first digital laser comprising an electrically addressed reflective phase-only spatial light modulator as an intra-cavity digitally addressed holographic mirror. The phase and amplitude of the holographic mirror may be controlled simply by writing a computer-generated hologram in the form of a grey-scale image to the device, for on-demand laser modes. We show that we can digitally control the laser modes with ease, and demonstrate real-time switching between spatial modes in an otherwise standard solid-state laser resonator. Our work opens new possibilities for the customizing of laser modes at source.