A thermal gradient-reduced-zone laser includes a laser medium and an optically transparent plate with an index of refraction that is less than the index of refraction of the laser medium. The pump face of the laser medium is bonded to a surface of the optically transparent member. Pump light is directed through the transparent plate to optically pump the solid state laser medium. Heat conduction is mainly through the surface of the laser medium where the heat is introduced by the pump light. Heat flows in a direction opposite to that of the pump light because the side of the laser medium that is opposite to that of the pump face is not in thermal contact with a conductor and thus there is no heat flux (and hence, no temperature gradient), thus producing a thermal gradient-reduced zone. A laser cavity is formed around the laser medium such that laser light oscillating within the laser cavity reflects by total-internal-reflection from the interface between the pump face and the optically transparent plate and enters and exits through a thermal gradient-reduced zone.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.