Linear and nonlinear optical pulse characterisation
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Developmental work on the generation and measurement of ultrashort pulses has been performed. A colliding pulse, passively mode-locked (CPM) ring dye laser has been investigated by spectral analysis and the nonlinear technique of second harmonic generation autocorrelation. Two systems for the intracavity compensation of group velocity dispersion (GVD) have been experimentally compared in the CPM laser. Initially one scheme, utilising Gires-Toumois interferometers, has achieved pulse durations of 64 fs. A second technique employing a four-prism sequence within the cavity gave typical pulse durations of -40 fs and focussing adjustments within the jets achieved durations as short as 19 fs for the first time. A realtime interferometric autocorrelator was constructed and detailed theoretical work has been performed to model the resultant fringe resolved autocorrelations as a function of pulseshape and frequency chirp. Spectral and autocorrelation analysis of the CPM laser led to the inference that the laser pulse intensity profiles were distinctly asymmetric. The main sources of frequency chirp within the laser cavity were assessed in order to find possible explanations for this type of laser behaviour. The linear pulse measurement technique employing synchroscan streak cameras was also critically assessed in terms of the available temporal resolutions as a function of phase noise in the RF deflection signal. Two streak tube designs, the Photochron II and the Photochron IV, have been experimentally compared employing the CPM laser as a test pulse source. Optimisation of the synchronisation circuitry has allowed the notable achievement of a temporal resolution of 0.93ps for the Photochron IV streak camera. A computer-interfaced readout system incorporating a charge coupled device (CCD) sensor has been developed which allows the recording of synchroscan streak events with a digitisation accuracy up to 12 bits. Preliminary experimentation was also performed to investigate the feasibility of incorporating a electron sensitive CCD structure within the envelope of the streak camera. It is intended that such a streak camera will be incorporated in a spaceborne laser ranging system and a theoretical assessment of the expected instrument performance has been performed. The above investigations have direct relevance to other types of ultrashort pulse sources and their application in optical communications, time-resolved spectroscopy and ultrafast electrooptic sampling.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy