Pockels Cells (Q-Switches)

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Electro-optic Pockels cells are used in applications that require fast switching of the polarization direction of a beam of light. These uses include Q-switching of laser cavities, coupling light into and out from regenerative amplifiers, and, when used in conjunction with a pair of polarizers, light intensity modulation. Pockels cells are characterized by fast response, since the Pockels Effect is largely an electronic effect that produces a linear change in refractive index when an electric field is applied, and they are much faster in response than devices based on acoustic changes in a material, for example.