We observed a damage mechanism for large laser optical components which has not been reported previously, we believe. Light scattered sideways within the component by stimulated Brillouin scattering or flaws in the component is trapped by total internal reflection. Around the perimeter of the component there is frequently a polymeric support, such as an O-ring. The absorption of light at this support generates plasma blowoff and an acoustic transient within the component. If the 0-ring is circular, as is customary, this highly symmetric acoustic transient propagates as a focusing acoustic wave to the center of the optical component, where if easily exceeds the breaking strength of the material.

© 1989 Optical Society of America

PDF Article