There is a continuing demand for compact, efficient, and low cost sources of laser radiation at ever increasing power-to-vol- ume ratios for a range of applications, particularly in industrial materials processing and surgery. One approach to meeting this need involves scaling the laser gain medium in two dimensions,1 i.e., area scaling of the laser gain volume rather than the more conventional (but usually inconvenient) approach of length scaling. In the case of gas discharge gain media, the area scaling concept may be realized by the use of transverse rf discharges.2 Such discharges may be diffusion cooled, allowing a route to the achievement of high power laser outputs without the need for convective cooling and high speed gas flow. An alternative excitation technique involves the use of transverse magnetically stabilized de dis- charges.3 Large area diffusion cooled rf discharges have been demonstrated with aspect ratios of 20:1 or higher and for values of the gain medium thickness d in the 1-10mm range.
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