Conventional materials engineering approaches for polycrystalline ceramic gain media rely on optically isotropic crystals with high equilibrium solubility of luminescent rare-earth (RE) ions. Crystallographic optical symmetry is traditionally relied upon to avoid scattering losses caused by refractive index mismatch at grain boundaries in randomly oriented anisotropic crystals and high-equilibrium RE-solubility is needed to produce sufficient photoluminescence (PL) for amplification and oscillation. These requirements exclude materials such as polycrystalline sapphire/alumina that have significantly superior thermo-mechanical properties (Rs~19,500Wm-1), because it possesses 1) uxiaxial optical properties that at large grain sizes, result in significant grain boundary scattering, and 2) a very low (~10-3%) RE equilibrium solubility that prohibits suitable PL. I present new materials engineering approaches operating far from thermodynamic equilibrium to produce a bulk Nd:Al2O3 medium with optical gain suitable for amplification/lasing. The key insight relies on tailoring the crystallite size to the other important length scales-wavelength of light and interatomic dopant distances and show that fine crystallite sizes result in sufficiently low optical losses and over-equilibrium levels of optically active RE-ions, the combination of which results in gain. The emission bandwidth is broad, ~13THz, a new record for Nd3+ transitions, enabling tuning from ~1050nm-1100nm and/or ultra-short pulses in a host with superior thermal-mechanical figure of merit. Laser grade Nd:Al2O3 opens a pathway for lasers with revolutionary performance.
Several in vitro and in vivo studies have been performed to investigate the potential of Photothermal Therapy (PTT) as a cancer treatment strategy. However, there are still open questions concerning the optimal parameters for generating cavitation bubbles and acoustic shockwaves for increasing the damage to malignant cells, and the primary mechanism for cell damage in PTT is still a matter of debate. This study investigates PTT based on shockwaves from cavitation induced far from the cells, due to laser absorption by gold nanorods (GNR) colloidal solutions in vitro. The effects of laser energy and distance from the cavitation on cell viability is investigated in PC3 prostate cancer cells, and Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells, respectively.