Gaussian Laser Modes

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This Demonstration considers the intensity distribution of Hermite-Gaussian transverse electromagnetic (TEM) modes produced by a laser. These modes are solutions of the paraxial wave equation in Cartesian coordinates. They represent the transverse (-) intensity distribution of a laser beam propagating in the direction.

Contributed by: Antoine Weis (November 2008)
(Université de Fribourg)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


Snapshots


Details

The Hermite-Gaussian modes

are an important family of solutions of the paraxial wave equation

that describes the optical field, that is, the amplitude of the electric field in a laser beam propagating along . The transverse (-) intensity distribution of the beam is given by

.

In the above, is the phase of the beam, which is irrelevant when discussing the intensity and is called the beam radius. As the beam propagates changes in a characteristic manner. However, as seen from the expressions above, acts as a scaling parameter, so that the transverse beam pattern does not change along the propagation direction; it merely changes its scale, shown in this Demonstration for .

By setting

,

the integrated intensity is normalized to yield unit power

.



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