High spatial and spectral quality diode-laser-based pump sources for solid-state lasers and optical parametric oscillators
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In this thesis the use of high spatial- and spectral-quality diode-laser pump sources for solid-state lasers and continuous-wave optical parametric oscillators (cw OPOs) is investigated. While diode lasers are potentially attractive, compact, low-cost pump sources for solid-state lasers and cw OPOs, the difficulty in obtaining moderate output powers, while retaining high spatial beam quality and spectral purity, often limits the potential of such lasers in these applications. Techniques for obtaining high-power, high spatial- and spectral-quality output from diode lasers are reviewed and the design, development and characterisation of an injection-locked broad-area diode-laser system is described. This system produced output powers of ≈400mW in a near-diffraction-limited beam (M2≈w1.3) and with a spectral width of <30MHz. The injection-locked system was used as the pump source for a quasi-three-level 946-nm Nd:YAG laser. End-pumped solid-state lasers of this type can offer potentially efficient, low-threshold operation if a near-diffraction limited pump source is used allowing optimal overlap with the laser mode. A model, including pump beam quality effects, is developed for such lasers and used to highlight the advantages of a near- diffraction-limited pump source, especially in the case of the 946-nm Nd:YAG transition which suffers from low gain and significant reabsorption losses. A 946-nm Nd: YAG laser pumped by the injection-locked system is described, yielding cw output powers up to 120mW with a 46% slope efficiency, performance comparable to Ti:sapphire- or dye-laser pumping, and 27ns Q-switched pulses having peak powers of 180W. 50W, 20ns pulses at 473nm were obtained by second-harmonic generation in KNbOs. The performance and relative merits of various cw OPO configurations, in the context of diode-laser pumping, are discussed and the development of a doubly- resonant OPO (DRO) based on periodically-poled lithium niobate is described. When pumped by the injection-locked system, this device showed a threshold of 25mW and .tuning of the outputs over 1.15- 1.25 mum at the signal and 2.3-2.65 mum at the idler was obtained by variation of crystal temperature, PPLN grating period and pump wavelength. When pumping with a 100mW single-mode diode laser, a 15mW OPO threshold was observed while retaining a similar tuning range. This represented the first demonstration of a cw DRO directly pumped by a single-mode diode laser. The achievement of such spectral coverage while pumping with this source points to the potential of such systems as compact, tunable sources in the near-to mid-infrared.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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