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Improving the beam quality factor (M2) by phase-only reshaping of structured light

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Abstract

Laser brightness is crucial in many optical processes, and is optimized by high power, high beam quality (low ${M^2}$) beams. Here we show how to improve the laser beam quality factor (reducing the ${M^2}$) of arbitrary structured light fields in a lossless manner using continuous phase-only elements, thus allowing for the increase in brightness by a simple linear optical transformation. We demonstrate the principle with four high ${M^2}$ initial beams, converting each to a Gaussian (${M^2} \approx 1$) with a dramatic increase in brightness of ${\gt}10 \times$. This work puts a new (to the best of our knowledge) perspective on the old debate of improving laser beam quality with binary diffractive optics, while providing a practical approach to enhancing laser brightness for arbitrary input beams.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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