Laser-induced photoconductivity in high resistivity semiconductors makes possible the control of high power electrical pulses with picosecond accuracy, which is frequently needed to drive fast electrooptic devices such as Pockels and Kerr cells as well as streak cameras. We will review the intrinsic properties of the picosecond photoconductive switching in terms of speed, optical energy requirements, and threshold. Applications to Pockels cells for optical pulse shaping and switch out as well as the jitter-free streak camera (Fig. 1), which leads to averaging capability in the picosecond time domain, will be presented.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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