Absorption, stimulated-emission and gain cross-sections are determined for 3 at.% Tm:CaGdAlO<sub>4</sub>. This crystal is employed in a microchip laser diode-pumped at 802 nm. In the continuous-wave (CW) regime, this laser generates 1.16 W at 1883-1893 nm with a slope efficiency of 32% with respect to the absorbed pump power. Using a special "bandpass" output coupler, vibronic CW laser operation up to 2043 nm is achieved. For passive Q-switching of the Tm:CaGdAlO<sub>4</sub> laser-saturable absorbers (SAs) based on CVD-grown graphene and randomly-oriented arc-discharge single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) in a PMMA film. The SWCNT-SA demonstrates superior performance. The laser produced a maximum average output power of 245 mW at 1844 nm with a slope efficiency of 8%. The latter corresponds to a pulse energy and duration of 6 μJ and 138 ns, respectively, at a repetition rate of 41 kHz. Using the graphene-SA, 2.8 μJ, 490 ns pulses are obtained at a repetition rate of 86 kHz.
We present a high-power, single-crystal based, Yb:CALGO regenerative amplifier. The system delivers more than 50 W output power in continuous-wave regime, with diffraction limited beam quality. In Q-switching regime the spectrum is centered at 1043 nm and is 11 nm wide. In regenerative amplification experiments we achieved 34 W at 500 kHz with 12.7 nm FWHM wide spectra centered at 1044 nm seeding with a broadly tunable, single-prism SESAM mode-locked Yb:CALGO laser providing 9 nm wide spectra at 1049 nm. Pulse duration after compression was 140 fs, with excellent beam quality (M<sup>2</sup> < 1.25).
We investigated the performance of the laser gain medium Yb:Lu<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3</sub> in a low-power oscillator and a high-power regenerative amplifier. Almost Fourier transform limited 78-fs pulses were demonstrated in the low-power, SESAM mode-locked oscillator pumped with a single-mode fiber-coupled laser diode. Exploiting the excellent thermomechanical properties of Yb:Lu<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3</sub>, we were able to achieve up to 22.2 W of average output power at a repetition rate of 500 kHz and 670-fs long pulses with the regenerative bulk amplifier. Experiments on further power up-scaling and pulse duration shortening are in progress. Up to 65 W were already proved in preliminary tests in cw regime.
We study and compare the performance of Yb:CaAlGdO<sub>4</sub>- and Yb:CaF<sub>2</sub>-based regenerative amplifiers at low (5 to 10 kHz) and high (up to 500 kHz) repetition rates. Both materials allow for pulse energies of <1 mJ with sub-400-fs at low repetition rates and up to 9.4 W of average output power at 500 kHz. <p> </p>Thanks to the good thermal properties of Yb:CaF<sub>2</sub> and Yb:CALGO, the extracted energy has the potential to be significantly increased with further pump power scaling. Shorter pulses are also potentially achievable by optimizing the design of stretcher and compressor in order to better compensate higher-order dispersion and reduce nonlinear effects. <p> </p>These laser sources are extremely interesting for industrial applications where high pulse energies at relative high repetition rates allow to considerably reduce the manufacturing throughput time.
We demonstrated for the first time, to the best of our knowledge a new intracavity pulse stretching design, employing a single grating-mirror based on a leaky-mode grating-waveguide design. The extremely compact and flexible layout allows for femtosecond pulses to be easily stretched up to nanosecond durations. The stretcher was implemented in a diode-pumped Yb:CALGO regenerative amplifier followed by a standard transmission grating compressor. We demonstrated sub-200 fs long pulses (stretched pulses ≈ 110 ps) with a maximum energy of 205 μJ at 20 kHz repetition rate. As a proof of the robustness and potential energy scaling of leaky-mode grating-waveguide intracavity stretcher, energies up to 700 μJ and 400 ps long pulses before compression at a lower repetition rate of 10 kHz, have been achieved. A simple model is proposed to investigate the cavity behavior in presence of induced spatial chirp.
Yb:CaAlGdO4 (Yb:CALGO) is a very promising material for high power ultrashort pulse generation, due to its broad emission bandwidth and good thermal properties. Here we report, to the best of our knowledge, the highest power and shorter pulses ever demonstrated from a Yb:CALGO-based regenerative amplifier. The system layout consists of a Yb:CALGO oscillator seeding a Yb:CALGO regenerative amplifier followed by a folded grating compressor. The Yb:CALGO oscillator provides approximately 650 mW output power in a 63 MHz repetition rate pulse train of 92-fs long pulses. The related spectrum is 12.5 nm wide (FWHM) and centered around 1050 nm. Average output powers as high as 36 W at 500 kHz are achieved out of the regenerative amplifier while pumping with 116 W at approximately 980 nm. A small roll-over in the regenerative output power is observed at maximum pump power. This is mostly due to a drift of the pump wavelength away from the maximum crystal absorption peak with increasing pump current. After compression, we obtained 28 W in a train of 217-fs long pulses, corresponding to a pulse energy higher than 50 μJ per pulse and a peak power above 0.25 GW. The pulse spectrum is centered at 1046 nm and is approximately 11 nm wide, corresponding to a time bandwidth product of 0.69. The beam quality factor stays below M2=1.15 up to the maximum output power level, confirming the outstanding thermal performances of the Yb:CALGO material. Experiments on further power up-scaling are in progress.