Electronics and Electrical Engineering

Population Inversion


For a laser you need a continuous number of available electrons for transition to a lower state emitting photons. In equilibrium most systems have a Boltzmann distribution of states and therefore the ground state always has the largest number of electrons. By electrical or optical pumping, carriers can be excited to higher states and the population of the states can be changed. For lasing, the upper radiative transition states must have a large population of electrons than the ground state i.e. population inversion. This also requires the lifetimes of each state to be correct to allow population inversion. (Most lasers, however, use four levels with a fast depopulation of the lower radiative transitions state but it is easier to illustrate population inversion using a three level laser system).