II-VI chalcogenides (e.g. ZnSe/S) doped with transition metal (TM) ions such as Cr, and Fe are arguably the materials of choice for fabrication of effective mid-IR gain media. TM:II-VI materials feature a favorable blend of laser spectroscopic parameters: a four-level energy structure, absence of excited state absorption, close to 100% quantum efficiency of fluorescence (for Cr doped II-VI media), broad mid-IR vibronic absorption and emission bands. This talk summarizes progress in fabrication of high quality Cr:ZnS/Se and Fe:ZnS/Se by cation vacancy and cation interstitial enhanced post growth thermal diffusion. We also describe recent breakthrough on recrystallization and effective doping of ZnS ceramics under hot isostatic pressing resulting in a large cm-scale monocrystalline domains formation and an increase of the Fe diffusion coefficient by three orders of magnitude.
We report recent advances in high-power Cr:ZnS/Se and Fe:ZnSe laser systems, enabling a wide range of tunability (1.8-5.0µm) with output power levels of up to 140 W near 2500 nm, 32 W at 2940 nm, and 35 W at 4300 nm with corresponding optical efficiencies of 62%, 29%, and 35%.
Current improvements of output characteristics of polycrystalline Cr:ZnS/Se oscillators in Kerr-Lens-Mode-Locked (KLM) regime are reported: up to 2 W output power at 75-1200 MHz repetition rate, up to 2 cycle pulse duration (16 fs) with efficiency of 20-25% with regards to Er-fiber laser pump power. The effects of efficient up-conversion of mid-IR fs pulses in the laser medium as well as supercontinuum generation are demonstrated.
Further extension of mid-IR spectral coverage to 3-8 m is demonstrated by Cr:ZnS KLM laser pumped degenerate (subharmonic) parametric oscillators (OPOs) based on based on quasi-phase matching in orientation-patterned gallium arsenide, and random phase matching in polycrystalline ZnSe.