The use of nonlinear optical laser components for phase conjugation and frequency conversion at high average power almost certainly requires a short temporal pulse width and good beam quality. We have investigated optical switching1 in lithium niobate Pockels cells as a means of obtaining short pulses suitable for nonlinear optical applications as high average power. We have measured relevant material constants of large diameter lithium niobate boules, and we have designed and constructed a prototype switch. Measurements of the performance of the prototype under optical loads up to 120 W/cm2 indicate that our design is capable of nanosecond scale rise times with high contrast ratio (100:1) at an optical throughput in the neighborhood of a kilowatt.

© 1989 Optical Society of America

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