Fourier domain mode locked (FDML) laser are fast swept light sources. Measuring the linewidth and coherence length of such light sources is not straightforward, but very important for a physical understanding of FDML lasers and their performance in optical coherence tomography (OCT). In order to characterize the dynamic (“instantaneous”) linewidth, we performed beat signal measurements between a stationary narrowband continuous wave laser and an FDML laser and detected the signals with a 63 GHz real time oscilloscope. The evaluation of the beat signals of consecutive FDML wavelength sweeps yields information about the phase evolution within one sweep and over several sweeps. These measurements suggest the existence of a distinct comb like mode structure of the FDML laser and help to determine the locking strength of individual modes (comb lines).
Fourier domain mode locking (FDML) is a recently developed technique for lasers to generate ultra-rapid wavelength sweeps, equivalent to a train of extremely chirped pulses. FDML lasers are the light sources of choice for fastest megahertz optical coherence tomography (MHz-OCT). Measuring the coherence properties of FDML lasers is of particular importance for the image quality in OCT but it is also crucial to develop a better understanding of this unconventional mode locking mechanism. Usually, experiments to analyze the phase stability of FDML lasers use interferometers to generate interference of a single laser by delaying a part of the output to generate a beat signal. Here, for the first time, we present real time beat signal measurements between two independent FDML lasers over the entire sweep range of ~5 THz width for more than 80 roundtrips (~200 μs), evaluate their phase stability and explain the consequence for our understanding of the FDML mechanism. Beat signal measurements allow direct access to the phase difference between the FDML lasers and therefore the difference in timing of the circulating sweeps as well as their instantaneous frequency.
We present an entirely fiber based laser source for non-linear imaging with a novel approach for multi-color excitation. The high power output of an actively modulated and amplified picosecond fiber laser at 1064 nm is shifted to longer wavelengths by a combination of four-wave mixing and stimulated Raman scattering. By combining different fiber types and lengths, we control the non-linear wavelength conversion in the delivery fiber itself and can switch between 1064 nm, 1122 nm, and 1186 nm on-the-fly by tuning the pump power of the fiber amplifier and modulate the seed diodes. This is a promising way to enhance the applicability of short pulsed laser diodes for bio-molecular non-linear imaging by reducing the spectral limitations of such sources. In comparison to our previous work [1, 2], we show for the first time two-photon imaging with the shifted wavelengths and we demonstrate pulse-to-pulse switching between the different wavelengths without changing the configuration.