Abstract

We investigate experimentally and theoretically the influence of the excess quantum noise in a laser on the laser’s input–output curve near threshold. As an experimental system we use a He–Xe gas laser with nonorthogonal polarization modes. We observe that the excess quantum noise is absent far below threshold and steadily builds up as threshold is approached. The excess noise is fully developed when the mode that (above threshold) becomes the lasing mode dominates in power the other, nonlasing, modes. This situation may already occur considerably below threshold, namely, when the hot-cavity photon lifetime of the dominant mode exceeds the coloring time of the excess noise.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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