Spatial Light Modulators (SLM) are emerging as a power tool for laser beam shaping whereby digitally addressed phase shifts can impose computer-generated hologram patterns on incoming laser light. SLM provide several additional advantages with ultrashort-pulsed lasers in controlling the shape of both surface and internal interactions with materials. Inside transparent materials, nonlinear optical effects can confine strong absorption only to the focal volume, extend dissipation over long filament tracks, or reach below diffraction-limited spot sizes. Hence, SLM beam shaping has been widely adopted for laser material processing applications that include parallel structuring, filamentation, fiber Bragg grating formation and optical aberration correction.
This paper reports on a range of SLM applications we have studied in femtosecond processing of transparent glasses and thin films. Laser phase-fronts were tailored by the SLM to compensate for spherical surface aberration, and to further address the nonlinear interactions that interplay between Kerr-lens self-focusing and plasma defocusing effects over shallow and deep focusing inside the glass. Limits of strong and weak focusing were examined around the respective formation of low-loss optical waveguides and long uniform filament tracks. Further, we have employed the SLM for beam patterning inside thin film, exploring the limits of phase noise, resolution and fringe contrast during interferometric intra-film structuring.
Femtosecond laser pulses of 200 fs pulse duration and 515 nm wavelength were shaped by a phase-only LCOS-SLM (Hamamatsu X10468-04). By imposing radial phase profiles, axicon, grating and beam splitting gratings, volume shape control of filament diameter, length, and uniformity as well as simultaneous formation of multiple filaments has been demonstrated. Similarly, competing effects of spherical surface aberration, self-focusing, and plasma de-focusing were studied and delineated to enable formation of low-loss optical waveguides over shallow and deep focusing conditions.
Lastly, SLM beam shaping has been successfully extended to interferometric processing inside thin transparent film, enabling the arbitrary formation of uniform or non-uniform, symmetric or asymmetric patterns of flexible shape on nano-scale dimensions without phase-noise degradation by the SLM patterning. We present quantized structuring of thin films by a single laser pulse, demonstrating λ/2nfilm layer ejection control, blister formation, nano-cavities, and film colouring. Closed intra-film nanochannels with high aspect ratio (20:1) have been formed inside 3.5 um thick silica, opening new prospects for sub-cellular studies and lab-in-film concepts that integrate on CMOS silicon technologies.
In this work longitudinal pumping of a continuous wave (CW) Nd:YVO4 laser by high power VCSEL modules was numerically studied. Two VCSEL pump modules (6 W and 15 W) were compared. The maximum output power from a Nd:YVO4 crystal using these pump modules was calculated to be 2.5 W and 6 W, respectively, using a 10 % output coupler. The slope and optical-to-optical efficiencies in both cases were around 47% and 40%, respectively. The performance of Nd:YVO4 crystal was found to be better than that of Nd:YAG crystal. Our numerical results indicate that VCSELs can serve as efficient pump sources for the end-pumped CW Nd:YVO4 lasers.