A set-up for automated measurement of damage thresholds on UV optical components is presented, being part of the EUREKA program “High Power Excimer Lasers”. It includes on-line monitoring of probe beam parameters as well as sample condition, using digital image processing techniques for both laser beam profiling and high sensitivity damage detection. The latter is performed with a video microscopy system by pixel-to-pixel comparison of the video frames taken before and after the test laser pulse.
Along with a description of the experimental details for routine automated data acquisition, results of damage threshold measurements on bare UV substrates at 248 nm are presented, showing a clear correlation with the amount of absorbed radiation at this wavelength. On dielectric coatings strong evidence for impurity dominated defect generation is found.
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