Novel nonlinear techniques for femtosecond pulse generation in the visible and near-infrared
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The work presented in this thesis describes the design, configuration and operation of femtosecond optical parametric oscillators based on the materials KTiOPO4 (KTP) and RbTiOAsO4 (RTA) and pumped by a self- modelocked Ti:sapphire laser. The alignment of the pump laser is detailed and thermal effects in the Ti:sapphire rod are examined in the context of a general technique which optimises modelocked performance at any pump power. A KTP-based femtosecond parametric oscillator is described which produces 400-fs-duration signal pulses at an average output power of 150 mW when operated in the absence of group-velocity dispersion- compensation. With intracavity dispersion-compensation, the oscillator produces 40-fs-duration pulses with an average power of 50 mW. Tuning is demonstrated from 1.12 - 1.25 mum in the signal wave and from 2.5 - 3.0 mum in the idler wave by changing only the pump-laser wavelength. Using a novel idler-feedback arrangement, reductions in the oscillation threshold and increases in the signal output power of 10 % are described. Soliton generation in the oscillator is achieved when the net cavity dispersion is positive and results show good agreement with theory. An oscillator using RTA is demonstrated which achieves conversion efficiencies exceeding 30 % and has an operating threshold of only 50 mW. Average signal powers of 100 mW and 185 mW are extracted from the oscillators with and without dispersion-compensation respectively. The corresponding pulse durations are 67 fs and 980 fs and tunability in the signal and idler waves from 1.23 - 1.34 mum and 2.10 - 2.43 mum is demonstrated. Visible output from 620 - 660 nm is obtained by intracavity- doubling and powers of up to 170 mW are measured. These results suggest that RTA has a higher nonlinear coefficient than KTP.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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