Thermal blooming critical power and adaptive optics correction for the ground based laser

David C. Smith, Sallie S. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The ground to space laser encounters the entire atmosphere and the laser power transmittable with good beam quality is ultimately limited by this propagation. For cw lasers, the ultimate limit is thermal blooming and this problem is addressed. The concept of a critical laser power is used which is the optimum laser power which leads to the highest far-field intensity. A perfect beacon is assumed and a perfect wave front sensor is also assumed to determine the maximum intensity achievable with adaptive optics phase conjugation of the thermal blooming. An analytic model is derived and its predicted results are compared with a wave optics computer code results. The agreement is quite good and shows the parametric dependence of the critical power on laser beam size, wavelength and atmospheric absorption and path length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-118
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes
EventPropagation of High-Energy Laser Beams Through the Earth's Atmosphere II - Los Angeles, CA, USA
Duration: Jan 21 1991Jan 23 1991


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