Transparent ceramics of cobalt-doped zinc aluminium spinel (gahnite), Co2+:ZnA2O4, are synthesized by hot pressing at 1520 °C for 4 h in the presence of zinc fluoride, ZnF2, as a sintering additive. The effect of the ZnF2 content (3–10 wt%) on the microstructure, Raman spectra, optical absorption and luminescence of ceramics is studied. The ceramics feature clean grain boundaries, the absence of pores and a narrow grain size distribution (mean grain size: 70-100 μm) resulting in high in-line transparency close to the theoretical limit. The obtained ceramics are suitable for fabrication of saturable absorbers of erbium lasers.
Ytterbium-doped transparent ceramics based on cubic garnets are promising for thin-disk lasers. 3.6 at.% Yb:Lu3Al5O12 transparent ceramics were fabricated by a solid-state reaction at 1800 °C in vacuum using Yb:Lu2O3 and Al2O3 nanopowders produced by laser ablation and their spectroscopic properties were studied. The stimulated-emission crosssection is 2.46×10-20 cm2 at 1030.2 nm. The Stark splitting of the Yb3+ multiplets was also determined. A compact CW Yb:Lu3Al5O12 ceramic laser pumped by a fiber-coupled 968 nm InGaAs laser diode generated 5.65 W at ~1031 nm with a slope efficiency of 67.2%. Using quasi-CW pumping, the peak power reached 8.83 W.