In the design of mode-locked lasers, single-walled carbon nanotube saturable absorbers (SWCNT-SAs) have emerged as important alternatives to semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors (SESAMs) due to their favorable optical
characteristics, low cost, and relatively simple fabrication scheme. Therefore, it is of great interest to explore the limits of energy scaling in solid-state lasers mode-locked with SWCNT-SAs. Due to their unique wavelength range for
biomedical applications, a room-temperature Cr4+:forsterite laser operating near 1.3 μm was used in the mode-locking experiments. The laser was end-pumped with a continuous-wave Yb-fiber laser at 1064 nm. Furthermore, a q-preserving multipass-cavity (MPC) was added to the short resonator to lower the pulse repetition rate to 4.51 MHz and to scale up the output pulse energy at low average power. The SWCNT-SA was fabricated with SWCNTs grown by the highpressure CO conversion (HiPCO) technique. With dispersion compensation optics, the net group delay dispersion of the resonator was estimated to be around -4440 fs2. When mode-locked with the SWCNT-SA, the resonator produced 10-nJ, 121-fs pulses at 1247 nm with a spectral bandwidth of 16 nm, corresponding to a time-bandwidth product of 0.37. To our knowledge, this represents the highest peak power (84 kW) generated to date from a bulk femtosecond solid-state laser, mode-locked by using a SWCNT-SA. The results also suggest that the peak power achieved in our experiments was limited only by the self-focusing in the Cr4+:forsterite gain medium and further increase in output energy should in principle be possible in other gain media mode-locked with SWCNT-SAs.