Mode-locking is a technique in optics by which a laser can be made to produce pulses of light of extremely short duration, on the order of picoseconds (10−12 s) or femtoseconds (10−15 s).
The basis of the technique is to induce a fixed phase relationship between the modes of the laser's resonant cavity. The laser is then said to be phase-locked or mode-locked. Interference between these modes causes the laser light to be produced as a train of pulses. Depending on the properties of the laser, these pulses may be of extremely brief duration, as short as a few femtoseconds.
Other related articles:
... Such mode-locked lasers are a most versatile tool for researching processes occurring on extremely short time scales (known as femtosecond physics, femtosecond chemistry and ultrafast science), for maximizing the effect of nonlinearity in optical materials (e.g ... in second-harmonic generation, parametric down-conversion, optical parametric oscillators and the like) due to the large peak power, and in ablation applications ...