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Appl Opt. 1980 Jan 1;19(1):144-7. doi: 10.1364/AO.19.000144.

Sensitive measurement of photon lifetime and true reflectances in an optical cavity by a phase-shift method.


A simplified method for measuring the effective photon lifetime in an optical resonator was developed. The technique requires the passage of a modulated cw laser beam through the resonator and the measurement of the resultant shift in the phase of the transmitted intensity. The method not only permits a quick and precise measurement of the mirror reflectances, but also permits these measurements to be in situ. Such an on-the-spot evaluation capability should be extremely useful in applications ranging from the investigation of new laser systems to the development of improved optical coatings. The method is also sensitive to the effects of absorption, scattering, and transmission from elements in the cavity. Cavity losses <100 ppm were detected.

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