Many scientific endeavors are benefitted by the development of increasingly high energy laser sources for lidar applications. Space-based applications for lidar require compact, efficient and high energy sources, and we have designed a novel gain head that is compatible with these requirements. The gain medium for the novel design consists of a composite Nd:YAG/Sm:YAG slab, wherein the Sm:YAG portion absorbs any parasitic 1064 nm oscillations that might occur in the main pump axis. A pump cavity is built around the slab, consisting of angled gold-coated reflectors which allow for five pump passes from each of the four pumping locations around the slab. Pumping is performed with off-axis diode bars, allowing for highly compact conductively cooled design. Optical and thermal modeling of this design was done to verify and predict its performance. In order to ultimately achieve 50 W average power at a repetition rate of 500 Hz, three heads of this design will be used in a MOPA configuration with two stages of amplification. To demonstrate the pump head we built it into a 1064 nm laser cavity and performed initial amplification experiments. Modeling and design of the system is presented along with the initial oscillator and amplifier results. The greatest pulse energy produced from the seeded q-switched linear oscillator was an output of 25 mJ at 500 Hz. With an input of 25 mJ and two planned stages of amplification, we expect to readily reach 100 mJ or more per pulse.
Motivated by the growing need for more efficient, high output power laser transmitters, we demonstrate a multi-wavelength laser system for lidar-based applications. The demonstration is performed in two stages, proving energy scaling and nonlinear conversion independently for later combination. Energy scaling is demonstrated using a 1064 nm MOPA system which employs two novel ceramic Nd:YAG slab amplifiers, the structure of which is designed to improve the amplifier’s thermal performance and energy extraction via three progressive doping stages. This structure improved the extraction efficiency by 19% over previous single-stage dopant designs. A maximum energy of 34 mJ was produced at 500 Hz with a 10.8 ns pulse duration. High efficiency non-linear conversion from 1064 nm to 452 nm is demonstrated using a KTP ring OPO with a BBO intra-cavity doubler pumped with 50 Hz, 16 ns 1064 nm pulses. The OPO generates 1571 nm signal which is frequency doubled to 756 nm by the BBO. Output 786 nm pulses are mixed with the 1064 nm pump pulses to generate 452 nm. A conversion efficiency of 17.1% was achieved, generating 3 mJ of 452 nm pulses of 7.8 ns duration. Pump power was limited by intra-cavity damage thresholds, and in future experiments we anticipate >20% conversion efficiency.
The use of optical quality ceramics for laser applications is expanding, and with this expansion there is an increasing need for diagnostics to assess the quality of these materials. Ceramic material with flaws and contaminants yields significantly less efficient performance as laser gain media and can generate excessive amounts of waste heat. This is a concern that is especially relevant in high power laser applications where thermally induced damage can be catastrophic. In order to assess a set of ceramic and crystalline samples we induce and measure thermal lensing in order to produce a relative ranking based on the extent of the induced thermal lens. In these experiments thermal lensing is induced in a set of nine 10% Yb:YAG ceramic and single-crystal samples using a high power 940 nm diode, and their thermal response is measured using a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor. The materials are also ranked by their transmission in the visible region. Discrepancies between the two ranking methods reveal that transmission in the visible region alone is not adequate for an assessment of the overall quality of ceramic samples. The thermal lensing diagnostic technique proves to be a reliable and quick over-all assessment method of doped ceramic materials without requiring any a priori knowledge of material properties.
Utilizing the transparency of silicon at 2 μm, we are able to ablate the backside of 500-μm thick
silicon wafers without causing any damage to the front surface using a novel nanosecond
Tm:fiber laser system. We report on our high energy/high peak power nanosecond Tm:fiber
laser and provide an initial description of the effects of laser parameters such as pulse duration
and energy density on the ablation, and compare thresholds for front and backside machining.
The ability to selectively machine the backside of silicon wafers without disturbing the front
surface may lead to new processing techniques for advanced manufacturing in solar cell and
We have developed an integrated Tm:fiber master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) system
producing 100 W output power, with sub-nm spectral linewidth at -10 dB level, >10 dB
polarization extinction ratio, and diffraction-limited beam quality. This system consists of
polarization maintaining fiber, spliced together with fiberized pump combiners, isolators and
mode field adaptors. Recent advances in PM fibers and components in the 2 μm wavelength
regime have enabled the performance of this integrated high power system; however further
development is still required to provide polarized output approaching kilowatt average power.
We report on a Tm:fiber master oscillator power amplifier system producing 100 W output power, with
>10 dB polarization extinction ratio and diffraction-limited beam quality. To our knowledge, this is the
highest polarized output power from an integrated Tm:fiber laser. The oscillator uses polarization
maintaining (PM) single mode fiber with 10/130 μm core/cladding diameters, and the amplifier uses large
mode area PM fiber with 25/400 μm core/cladding diameters. The oscillator and amplifier are pumped
using 793 nm diodes spliced with pump combiners, and the oscillator is spliced to the amplifier via a
mode field adaptor.
We have demonstrated an all-fiber thulium laser system that, without any intracavity polarizing elements or freespace
components, yielded a stable polarization extinction ratio (PER) of ~18 dB. The system is based on singlemode
polarization-maintaining silica fiber and its cavity is formed from each a high and low reflectivity
femtosecond laser written fiber Bragg grating resonant at 2054 nm. The output of the fiber is not only highly
polarized, but maintains a narrow linewidth of 78 pm at its maximum output power of 5.24 W. The high PER
without any polarizing elements in the cavity is of great interest and makes the systems useful for spectral beam
combining and other applications which require polarization dependent optical elements.
A polarization-maintaining (PM), narrow-linewidth, continuous wave, thulium fiber laser is demonstrated. The laser
cavity is formed from two femtosecond-laser-written fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs) and operates at 2054 nm. The
laser output possesses both narrow spectral width (78 pm) and a high polarization extinction ratio of ~18 dB at 5.24
W of output power. This laser is a unique demonstration of a PM thulium fiber system based on a two FBG cavity
that produces high PER without any free-space elements. Such a narrow linewidth source will be useful for
applications such as spectral beam combining which often employ polarization dependent combining elements.
We report on a thulium doped silica fiber ASE source for absorption spectroscopy of CO2. The average spectral power
of this source was 2.3-6.1 μW/nm. This low spectral power of this source posed limitation in the sensitivity of the
system which was overcome by using an ultrashort pulsed Raman amplifier system with 50-125 μW/nm average spectral
power. This system produced CO2 sensitivity better than 300 ppm making measurement of CO2 possible at standard
A tunable master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) fiber laser system based on thulium doped silica fiber designed for
investigation of multi-kilometer propagation through atmospheric transmission windows existing from ~2030 nm to
~2050 nm and from ~2080 nm to beyond 2100 nm is demonstrated. The system includes a master oscillator tunable over
>200 nm of bandwidth from 1902 nm to beyond 2106 nm producing up to 10 W of linearly polarized, stable, narrow
linewidth output power with near diffraction limited beam quality. Output from the seed laser is amplified in a power
amplifier stage designed for operation at up to 200 W CW over a tuning range from 1927 - 2097 nm. Initial field tests of
this system at the Innovative Science & Technology Experimental Facility (ISTEF) laser range on Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station, Florida will be discussed. Results presented will include investigation of transmission versus wavelength
both in and out of atmospheric windows, at a variety of distances. Investigations of beam quality degradation at ranges
up to 1 km at a variety of wavelengths both in and out of atmospheric transmission windows will be also presented.
Available theoretical models of atmospheric transmission are compared to the experimental results.
Beams from three frequency stabilized master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) thulium fiber laser systems were
spectrally beam combined using a metal diffraction grating. Two of the laser oscillators were stabilized with guided
mode resonances filters while the third was stabilized using a gold-coated diffraction grating. Each system was
capable of producing a minimum of 40 W output powers with slope efficiencies between 50-60 %. The three lasers
undergoing combination were operating at wavelengths of 1984.3, 2002.1, and 2011.9 nm with spectral linewidths
between 250-400 pm. Beam combining was accomplished by spatially overlapping the spectrally separated beams
on a water-cooled gold-coated diffraction grating with 600 lines/mm. Beam quality measurements were completed
using M2 measurements at multiple power levels of the combined beam. Power levels of 49 W were achieved before
thermal heating of the metal diffraction grating cause degradation in beam quality. The combining grating was
~66% efficient for the unpolarized light corresponding to a total optical-to-optical efficiency of 33% with respect to
launched pump power.
We report the performance of an actively Q-switched Tm fiber laser system. The laser was stabilized to sub-nanometer
spectral width using each of two feedback elements: a blazed reflection grating and a volume Bragg grating. Maximum
pulse energy using the reflection grating was 325 μJ pulses at 1992 nm (< 200 pm width) with a 125 ns duration at a 20
kHz repetition rate. Maximum pulse energy using the volume Bragg grating was 225 μJ pulses at 2052 nm (<200 pm
width) with a 200 ns duration also at 20 kHz. We also report the laser's performance as an ablation source for LIBS
experiments on copper.