Tunable femtosecond lasers with low pump thresholds
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The work in this thesis is concerned with the development of tunable, femtosecond laser systems, exhibiting low pump threshold powers. The main motive for this work was the development of a low threshold, self-modelocked Ti:Al2O3 laser in order to replace the conventional large-frame argon-ion pump laser with a more compact and efficient all-solid-state alternative. Results are also presented for an all-solid-state, self-modelocked Cr:LiSAF laser, however most of this work is concerned with self-modelocked Ti:Al2O3 laser systems. In chapter 2, the operation of a regeneratively-initiated, and a hard-aperture self- modelocked Ti:Al2O3 laser, pumped by an argon-ion laser, is discussed. Continuous- wave oscillation thresholds as low as 160mW have been demonstrated, along with self-modelocked threshold powers as low as 500mW. The measurement and suppression of phase noise on modelocked lasers is discussed in chapter 3. This is followed by a comparison of the phase noise characteristics of the regeneratively-initiated, and hard-aperture self-modelocked Ti:Al2O3 lasers. The use of a synchronously-operating, high resolution electron-optical streak camera in the evaluation of timing jitter is also presented. In chapter 4, the construction and self-modelocked operation of an all-solid-state Ti:Al2O3 laser is described. The all-solid-state alternative to the conventional argon-ion pump laser was a continuous-wave, intracavity-frequency doubled, diode-laser pumped Nd:YLF ring laser. At a total diode-laser pump power of 10W, this minilaser was capable of producing a single frequency output of ~1W, at 523.5nm in a TEM00 beam. The remainder of this thesis looks at the operation of a self-modelocked Ti:Al2O3 laser generating ultrashort pulses at wavelengths as long as 1053nm. The motive for this work was the development of an all-solid-state, self- modelocked Ti:Al2O3 laser operating at 1053nm, for use as a master oscillator in a Nd:glass power chain.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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