DBR-free membrane VECSELs, also called MECSELs are a recent development in the field of VECSELs. They offer an alternative set of design parameter controls compared to traditional VECSELs. Here we will report on recent developments of 1 micron membrane VECSELs for CW and mode-locked operation, including achieving >10 W CW output power using a membrane VECSEL mounted on a silicon carbide intra-cavity heat spreader.
We report on recent developments in the characterisation of non-linear lensing in semiconductor disk laser gain samples. We find that there is a significant nonlinear lens present and the magnitude and sign of this depend on the conditions under which it is being observed. Under experimental conditions which are, to date, the closest to intra-cavity conditions, with 350 fs pulses at the same wavelength a mode-locked SDL using that gain chip would operate at we find that the lens is always negative and its magnitude is almost independent of pump intensity. We also report on the experimental observation of different mode-locking regimes in SDLs including dual wavelength mode-locking and pulse molecule formation and compare these experimentally observed modes of operation with predictions from microscopic modelling previously reported in by Kilen et. al. 
Multiphoton imaging (MPI) is an important fluorescence microscopy technique that allows deep tissue and in-vivo imaging with high selectivity. According to theory, two-photon signal is proportional to the product of the peak power and the average power, allowing optimization of key imaging parameters of the excitation laser, such as average power, repetition rate and pulse duration. Recent progress in compact ultrafast lasers including femtosecond fiber lasers and optically pumped semiconductor lasers makes direct control of these parameters possible. In order to investigate the optimum laser parameters for two photon imaging we experimentally study the effects of repetition rate between 2.85 and 90 MHz and pulse duration between 336 fs and 3.5 ps on two photon signal in SYTOX Green labeled mouse intestine sections at 1030 nm. We found that the optimum repetition rate for this sample is in the range 20 – 40 MHz, depending on average power, and that the pulse duration has no effect on the MPI signal provided that the average power can be adjusted to keep the product of average and peak power constant.
Multiphoton imaging (MMPI) has become one of thee key non-invasive light microscopy techniques. This technique allows deep tissue imaging with high resolution and less photo-damage than conventional confocal microscopy. MPI is type of laser-scanning microscopy that employs localized nonlinear excitation, so that fluorescence is excited only with is scanned focal volume. For many years, Ti: sapphire femtosecond lasers have been the leading light sources for MPI applications. However, recent developments in laser sources and new types of fluorophores indicate that longer wavelength excitation could be a good alternative for these applications. Mode-locked VECSEELs have the potential to be low cost, compact light sources for MPI systems, with the additional advantage of broad wavelength coverage through use of different semiconductor material systems. Here, we use a femtosecond fibber laser to investigate the effect average power and repetition rate has on MPI image quality, to allow us to optimize our mode-locked VVECSELs for MPI.
Efficient thermal management is vital for VECSELs, affecting the output power and several aspects of performance of the device. Presently there exist two distinct methods of effective thermal management which both possess their merits and disadvantages. Substrate removal of the VECSEL gain chip has proved a successful method in devices emitting at a wavelength near 1μm. However for other wavelengths the substrate removal technique has proved less effective primarily due to the thermal impedance of the distributed Bragg reflectors. The second method of thermal management involves the use of crystalline heat spreaders bonded to the gain chip surface. Although this is an effective thermal management scheme, the disadvantages are additional loss and the etalon effect that filters the gain spectrum, making mode locking more difficult and normally resulting in multiple peaks in the spectrum. There are considerable disadvantages associated with both methods attributed to heatspreader cost and sample processing. It is for these reasons that a proposed alternative, front surface liquid cooling, has been investigated in this project.
Direct liquid cooling involves flowing a temperature-controlled liquid over the sample’s surface. In this project COMSOL was used to model surface liquid cooling of a VECSEL sample in order to investigate and compare its potential thermal management with current standard thermal management techniques. Based on modelling, experiments were carried out in order to evaluate the performance of the technique. While modelling suggests that this is potentially a mid-performance low cost alternative to existing techniques, experimental measurements to date do not reflect the performance predicted from modelling.
In recent years there have been several reports describing self-modelocking (SML) in vertical-external-cavity surfaceemitting lasers (VECSELs). Some of these reports have suggested that the behaviour that has been observed results from nonlinear lensing in the VECSEL gain sample in a manner analogous to Kerr lens modelocking in solid state lasers. However to date none of the groups that have reported SML in VECSELs have performed measurements to ascertain whether nonlinear lensing occurs in the gain sample. Measurements of nonlinear lenses in VECSEL gain samples are therefore of value not only in order to understand the behaviour observed in the reports of SML, but also as a potentially crucial design tool for any mode-locked VECSEL, regardless of the modelocking method used.
In a previous publication we described measurements which demonstrated that a defocusing nonlinear lens was present in an unpumped VECSEL gain sample, and that the inverse focal length of the lens increased with pump power, to the point of becoming a focusing lens for sufficiently high pump powers. Unfortunately, by necessity this measurement was performed using a probe laser which was not resonant with the quantum wells in the sample, meaning that the values measured may well be different from those experienced under operating conditions in a VECSEL. This paper describes a more complete characterisation of VECSEL gain sample nonlinear lensing with a probe laser whose wavelength is resonant with the gain sample quantum wells.