Differences between continuous wave laser vs Q-switched laser

With many different types of lasers on offer, it’s important to highlight the differences. At Cobolt we endeavor to make sure our customers understand the specific products we have on offer in a more in-depth manner.

Lasers are defined by the type of medium that they use such as gas, dye, solid state or excimer. The difference between a continuous wave (cw) laser and a Q-switched laser is simply characterized by the length or duration of the laser emission.

A continuous wave laser operates with stable or continuous output power. The output power of a cw laser is typically measured in watts. A Q-switched laser is generally classified as a pulsed laser, as its output is characterized by pulses of energy which occur at a particular pulse repetition frequency. Within the cavity of the Q-switched laser there is a nonlinear crystal, known as a Q-switch, that does not allow any release of laser light before it is opened. This means that energy is built up in a Q-switched laser which is then released when opening the Q-switch and this can produce a very strong laser pulse. These pulses usually have a pulse length of 1-5 ns (depending on the cavity design) and have peak powers in the megawatt range.

Differentiating between the continuous wave laser vs Q-switched laser is easy. However, at Cobolt we understand that it will be the customers application in the end which determines which will suit the best.

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