Yttrium and Lutecium garnets (YAG and LuAG) doped by Chromium or Vanadium ions (Cr4+ or V3+) were
investigated as saturable absorbers potentially useful for passive Q-switching at wavelengths 1 μm and/or 1.3 μm.
For comparison also color center saturable absorber LiF:F-2 and Cobalt doped spinel (Co:MALO) were studied.
Firstly, low power absorption spectra were recorded for all samples. Next, absorbers transmission in dependence
on incident energy/power density was measured using the z-scan method. Crystals Cr:YAG, Cr:LuAG, V:YAG,
and LiF:F-2 were tested at wavelength 1064 nm. Therefore Alexandrite laser pumped Q-switched Nd:YAG laser
was used as a radiation source (pulse length 6.9 ns, energy up to 1.5 mJ). Crystals V:YAG, V:LuAG, and
Co:MALO were tested at wavelength 1338 nm. So diode pumped Nd:YAG/V:YAG microchip laser was used as a
radiation source (pulse length 6.2 ns, energy up to 0.1 mJ). Using measured data fitting, and by their comparison
with numerical model of a "thick" saturable absorber transmission for Q-switched Gaussian laser beam, following
parameters were estimated: saturable absorber initial transmission T0, saturation energy density ws, ground state
absorption cross-section σGSA, saturated absorber transmission Ts, excited state absorption cross-section σESA,
ratio γ = σGSA/σESA, and absorbing ions density. For V:YAG crystal, a polarization dependence of Ts was also
investigated. With the help of rate equation numerical solution, an impact of saturable absorber parameters on
generated Q-switched pulse properties was studied in plane wave approximation. Selected saturable absorbers
were also investigated as a Q-switch and results were compared with the model.