Rare-earth-doped calcium niobium gallium garnets (Ca<sub>3</sub>Nb<sub>1.5</sub>Ga<sub>3.5</sub>O<sub>12</sub>, shortly CNGG) are disordered laser materials attractive for ultrashort pulse generation. We report on the crystal growth by the Czochralski method, spectroscopy and efficient laser operation of Yb<sup>3+</sup>,Na<sup>+</sup> and Yb<sup>3+</sup>,Na<sup>+</sup>,Li<sup>+</sup>-codoped CNGG-type crystals. Their cubic structure is confirmed by X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. The absorption / stimulated-emission cross-sections and lifetime of Yb<sup>3+</sup> are determined. Continuous-wave (CW) laser experiments are performed in a compact cavity using a 968-nm InGaAs pump laser diode. A 11.9 at.% Yb,Na:CNGG crystal generated 3.74 W at 1069.9 nm with a slope efficiency of 56.5%. Yb,Na:CNGG is promising for sub-100-fs mode-locked lasers at ~1 μm.
Mode-locked lasers emitting ultrashort pulses in the 2-μm spectral range at high (100-MHz) repetition rates offer unique opportunities for time-resolved molecular spectroscopy and are interesting as pump/seed sources for parametric frequency down-conversion and as seeders of ultrafast regenerative laser amplifiers. Passively mode-locked lasers based on Tm<sup>3+</sup>- and Ho<sup>3+</sup>-doped bulk solid-state materials have been under development for about a decade. In 2009 we demonstrated the first steady-state operation of such a Tm:KLu(WO<sub>4</sub>)<sub>2</sub> laser using a single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) saturable absorber (SA), generating 10-ps pulses at 1.95 μm. In 2012 this laser produced 141-fs pulses at 2.037 μm. More recently, the study of numerous active media with different SAs resulted in the generation of sub-100-fs (sub-10-optical-cycle) pulses. Materials with broad and smooth spectral gain profile were selected, naturally emitting above 2 μm to avoid water vapor absorption/dispersion effects, including anisotropic materials, strong crystal-field distortion in hosts that do not contain rare-earths, crystals with structural or compositional (i.e. mixed compounds) disorder that exhibit inhomogeneous line broadening, mixed laser ceramics, and Tm,Ho-codoping of ordered and disordered crystals and ceramics. A broad absorption band in semiconducting SWCNTs spans from 1.6 to 2.1-μm whereas the absorption of graphene extends into the mid-IR and scales for multilayers, increasing the modulation depth. Compared to GaSb-based semiconductor SA mirrors (SESAMs), the carbon nanostructures exhibit broader spectral response and can be fabricated by simpler and inexpensive techniques. Chirped mirrors were implemented for groupvelocity dispersion compensation, to generate the shortest pulses, down to 52 fs at 2.015 μm.
We demonstrate the laser performance of a gadolinium scandium gallium garnet (GSGG) single crystal with 10 at.% Yb3 + -doping concentration. In the case of continuous-wave operation, the laser wavelength was blueshifted in the range from 1067.1 to 1027.2 nm with increasing the transmission of the output coupler from 0.5% to 30%. The maximum output power produced was 3.2 W with 3% output transmission. By employing a Cr4 + : YAG crystal as the saturable absorber, a stable Q-switched laser beam with 21-ns pulse duration and 38-μJ single-pulse energy was achieved at a 20-kHz repetition rate. This laser crystal should be a promising candidate for nanosecond pulse generation especially in harsh environments, such as outer space, due to its wide absorption and emission spectral bandwidths and strong radiation resistance.