Compared with electron-beam excited CO2 lasers, discharge TEA lasers have the well-known advantages of simplicity, low cost, and high overall efficiency. However, the quality of a pulsed self-sustained laser system is mainly determined by the quality and reliability of the gas discharge, and unfortunately the stability and the homogeneity of the discharge become poor for large apertures. Another serious problem is that although calculations predict a laser efficiency of the order of 20%, this value never could be reached experimentally. This discrepancy is not due to lack of knowledge of the physical processes occurring in the laser medium but most likely to inhomogeneities in the gas discharge.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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