Abstract

It has been shown experimentally that properly profiled magnetic fields can be used to enhance the stability of CO2 laser gas discharges [ C. E. Capjack et al., J. Appl. Phys. 52, 4517 ( 1981); H. J. J. Seguin et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 39, 203( 1981)]. Initially, the mechanism of stabilization was thought to be due to bulk motion of the gas molecules due to collisions with ions drifting in the E × B direction. Computational analysis, however, has subsequently shown that the primary stabilization mechanism involves the dispersion of localized charged particle perturbations over the cathode electrode surface area in a time interval less than that required for an instability to develop. In an earlier paper [ R. Razdan et al., J. Appl. Phys. 57, 4954 ( 1985)], the present authors used a Monte Carlo simulation technique to analyze the cathode fall region of a helium gas discharge. The theoretical data showed the effect of a varying magnetic field on stability. In this paper, the results have been extended to the other gases of interest in CO2 lasers, principally N2 and CO2. In addition, a typical CO2 laser gas discharge containing a mixture of He, N2, and CO2 in a 20:8:2-Torr ratio has been analyzed. The results confirm that the use of magnetic fields in the vicinity of the cathode surface can indeed enhance the stability of a CO2 laser gas discharge, thereby providing the potential for increasing its power output.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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