Since the first demonstration of electric field poling in 1993, the use of quasi-phase matching (QPM) technique has gained wide adoption in a multitude of applications. The QPM field today is dominated mainly by the ferroelectric oxide materials from LiNbO<sub>3</sub> (LN) and KTiOPO<sub>4</sub> (KTP) families, where QPM structures are implemented by the electric field poling technique. While typical QPM devices have a fixed-period, one-dimensional domain grating design, which is the most straightforward to implement, numerous applications require the ability to continuously tune the wavelength over a wider spectral range. For applications where temperature tuning is not desired, a fan-out QPM grating design may be advantageous. The tuning here is performed by transverse translation of the structure in respect to the pump beam, while keeping the crystal temperature constant. While the implementation of fan-out gratings is reasonably well researched in LN, there is a lack of reliable data for KTP isomorphs. Taking into account the high domain growth anisotropy in KTP, an important factor becomes the angle between the domain walls and the b-axis of the crystal. This angle directly affects the quality and dimensions of the QPM device. However, its upper boundary has not been determined to date. In this work we discuss the prospects and limitations of PPKTP devices with fan-out grating designs. We present a fan-out PPRKTP device, where the transverse fan-out rate is 0.5 μm/mm. In an OPO configuration pumped by 532 nm such PPRKTP crystal is able to provide continuously tunable radiation between 0.7 – 2.2 μm.
Mirrorless optical parametric oscillators (MOPO) represent a special class of parametric devices based on three-wave nonlinear interaction in which the generated photons counter-propagate. Owing to the phase-matching condition of the counter-propagating waves, MOPOs can sustain oscillation without mirrors and present unique and useful tuning and spectral properties. In this paper, we will review our recent advances in structuring technology to achieve quasi-phase matching periodicities as short as 500 nm in Rb-doped KTiOPO<sub>4</sub>, which are necessary to compensate for the large phase mismatch. We will also review the performance of MOPOs both in the ps- and ns- pumping regime. In the latter, our crystals reach single-pass conversion efficiencies exceeding 50%, with mJ-level output energies.
Since the early 1990’s, a substantial effort has been devoted to the development of quasi-phased-matched (QPM) nonlinear devices, not only in ferroelectric oxides like LiNbO<sub>3</sub>, LiTaO<sub>3</sub> and KTiOPO<sub>4</sub> (KTP), but also in semiconductors as GaAs, and GaP. The technology to implement QPM structures in ferroelectric oxides has by now matured enough to satisfy the most basic frequency-conversion schemes without substantial modification of the poling procedures. Here, we present a qualitative leap in periodic poling techniques that allows us to demonstrate devices and frequency conversion schemes that were deemed unfeasible just a few years ago. Thanks to our short-pulse poling and coercive-field engineering techniques, we are able to demonstrate large aperture (5 mm) periodically poled Rb-doped KTP devices with a highly-uniform conversion efficiency over the whole aperture. These devices allow parametric conversion with energies larger than 60 mJ. Moreover, by employing our coercive-field engineering technique we fabricate highlyefficient sub-µm periodically poled devices, with periodicities as short as 500 nm, uniform over 1 mm-thick crystals, which allow us to realize mirrorless optical parametric oscillators with counter-propagating signal and idler waves. These novel devices present unique spectral and tuning properties, superior to those of conventional OPOs. Furthermore, our techniques are compatible with KTA, a KTP isomorph with extended transparency in the mid-IR range. We demonstrate that our highly-efficient PPKTA is superior both for mid-IR and for green light generation – as a result of improved transmission properties in the visible range. Our KTP-isomorph poling techniques leading to highly-efficient QPM devices will be presented. Their optical performance and attractive damage thresholds will be discussed.
High-energy mid-infrared nanosecond sources are required in a number of applications including biomedicine, remote sensing, and standoff countermeasures, to name just a few. Sources which serve these applications include mid-infrared fiber and solid-state lasers, quantum cascade lasers, as well as optical parametric oscillators (OPO).
A singly-resonant OPO (SRO) based on AgGaSe<sub>2</sub> (AGSe) intracavity pumped at ~1.85 μm by the signal pulses of a Rb:PPKTP doubly-resonant OPO (DRO) provided extremely broad tuning (5.8 to ~18 μm) for the non-resonated idler. In a similar set-up with the same nonlinear crystals, we studied intracavity difference-frequency generation (DFG). Both AGSe and the new monoclinic crystal BaGa<sub>4</sub>Se<sub>7</sub> (BGSe) generated single pulse energies of ~0.7 mJ near 7 μm at an overall conversion efficiency from the 1.064 μm pump of 1.2%. The main advantage of BGSe is its damage resistivity up to the maximum pump levels applied at 100 Hz.
One of the most practical means of generating tunable mid-infrared output is by using cascaded parametric downconversion from 1 μm, where efficient and reliable high-energy nanosecond lasers are well established. The overall efficiency of the cascade relies heavily on the efficiency of the first down-conversion stage where it is beneficial to employ quasi-phase matched crystals such as periodically-poled Rb:KTiOPO<sub>4</sub> (PPRKTP). Ultimately, the pulse energy at 2 μm and the optimum design of the first cascade will depend on the maximum intensity which could be safely applied to these crystals and therefore these schemes mandate investigation of nanosecond laser-induced damage threshold in KTiOPO4 (KTP) and Rb:KTiOPO<sub>4</sub> (RKTP) at 1.064 μm and 2 μm. In the context of high-energy systems, where the beams are at most loosely focused, the limiting energy fluence will be determined by the laser induced damage threshold (LIDT) of the bare surface. Therefore the LIDT of the bare surface is the lowest LIDT which has to be taken into account in design of robust 2 μm parametric systems. We report surface LIDT measurements in KTP and RKTP with nanosecond pulses at 1.064 μm and 2.1 μm. We find that the reported LIDT for the bulk is far higher than that of the surface and therefore is unsuitable as a guide for the 2 μm parametric system designs. LIDT values for KTP and RKTP with nanosecond pulses at 2 μm have not been reported so far to the best of our knowledge.
Nonlinear absorption measurements at 800 nm and 400 nm in single wavelength high reflection (HR) dielectric mirrors were performed, according to the ISO 11551 standard by pulse, gradient and exponential absorption evaluation methods, using pulsed, diode pumped femtosecond laser system with pulse duration ~130 fs. Pulsed laser output at 1kHz repetition rate had 1 W and 0.36 W average power at 800 nm and 400 nm, respectively. The HR mirrors were made of ZrO<sub>2</sub> and SiO<sub>2</sub> layers. The beam was focused into the mirror, and changing the beam power by step attenuator, it was possible to evaluate nonlinear absorption at different intensities up to intensity close to damage threshold. The nonlinear absorptance for 400 nm pulses at the femtosecond pulse intensity 0.8 TW/cm<sup>2</sup> was 0.48 % and ~20 times exceeded the nonlinear absorptance for the 800 nm pulses.