Article | March 1, 2023

Laser Peak Power Vs. Laser Average Power

Laser output can be classified into 2 large groups: Continuous-wave lasers (CW) and pulsed lasers.

CWs emit a fairly constant stream of light. Average power density is a good metric to understand this type of laser.

Pulsed lasers alternate between emitting no laser light at all and emitting short bursts, called pulses. Average power is not enough to understand what to expect from pulsed lasers. Peak power (and peak density) tells you how powerful the pulses are.

Comparing Peak And Average Power Values

The difference between peak power and average power can be very large. To visualize this, let's use the specs of just one laser, and run it through both the peak power density calculator and the average power density calculator.

The laser we'll use is a 1064nm YAG laser, emitting 30ns wide 1200mJ pulses at a rate of 40Hz. The beam shape at the target will be a gaussian circular profile of 10mm diameter.

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Gentec Electro-Optics, Inc.