All-solid-state laser devices operating in the 1.5 - 1.6 μm wavelength range have many practical applications. The most notable of these is their use in optical telecommunications, but the current research drive is to increase the output power from high beam quality, solid-state devices for eye-safe applications such as laser range finding and target acquisition, remote sensing of trace elements in air, light detecting and ranging, medicine, metrology and atmospheric phenomena such as measurements of wind shear.
Yb3+ ions are co-doped into the host material to improve the pumping efficiency by taking advantage of commercial InGaAs diode lasers emitting at 980 nm. The absorbed pump is then non-radiative transferred to the Er3+ ions, and rapidly decaying to the 4I13/2 upper-laser level. Laser operation in Er,Yb co-doped systems has been dominated by glass hosts (in particular, phosphate) with attempts in crystalline materials yielding disappointing results despite their superior mechanical and thermal properties.
In this paper we will present efficient diode-pumped laser operation of the crystalline host material Er,Yb:YCOB at 1.55 μm. By studying the energy transfer mechanisms of this material, we have identified the optimum dopant concentrations and 250 mW of continuous wave (cw) output in TEM00 transverse mode has been obtained with a 2mm crystal in an hemispherical cavity. Also, >150 mW cw has been obtained in a flat-flat cavity arrangement. The output coupling in each case was 1%. The slope efficiency of the laser was 21.9%.