Abstract: In this Letter, we report on the generation of 1060 W average power from an ultrafast thulium-doped fiber chirped pulse amplification system. After compression, the pulse energy of 13.2 μJ with a pulse duration of 265 fs at an 80 MHz pulse repetition rate results in a peak power of 50 MW spectrally centered at 1960 nm. Even though the average heat-load in the fiber core is as high as 98 W/m, we confirm the diffraction-limited beam quality of the compressed output. Furthermore, the evolution of the relative intensity noise with increasing average output power has been measured to verify the absence of transversal mode instabilities. This system represents a new average power record for thulium-doped fiber lasers (1150 W uncompressed) and ultrashort pulse fiber lasers with diffraction-limited beam quality, in general, even considering single-channel ytterbium-doped fiber amplifiers.
Abstract: The development of high-power, broadband sources of coherent mid-infrared radiation is currently the subject of intense research that is driven by a substantial number of existing and continuously emerging applications in medical diagnostics, spectroscopy, microscopy, and fundamental science. One of the major, long-standing challenges in improving the performance of these applications has been the construction of compact, broadband mid-infrared radiation sources, which unify the properties of high brightness and spatial and temporal coherence. Due to the lack of such radiation sources, several emerging applications can be addressed only with infrared (IR)-beamlines in large-scale synchrotron facilities, which are limited regarding user access and only partially fulfill these properties. Here, we present a table-top, broadband, coherent mid-infrared light source that provides brightness at an unprecedented level that supersedes that of synchrotrons in the wavelength range between 3.7 and 18 µm by several orders of magnitude. This result is enabled by a high-power, few-cycle Tm-doped fiber laser system, which is employed as a pump at 1.9 µm wavelength for intrapulse difference frequency generation (IPDFG). IPDFG intrinsically ensures the formation of carrier-envelope-phase stable pulses, which provide ideal prerequisites for state-of-the-art spectroscopy and microscopy.
Abstract: We report on the generation of a high-power frequency comb in the 2 μm wavelength regime featuring high amplitude and phase stability with unprecedented laser parameters, combining 60 W of average power with <30 fs pulse duration. The key components of the system are a mode-locked Er:fiber laser, a coherence-preserving nonlinear broadening stage, and a high-power Tm-doped fiber chirped-pulse amplifier with subsequent nonlinear self-compression of the pulses. Phase locking of the system resulted in a phase noise of less than 320 mrad measured within the 10 Hz–30 MHz band and 30 mrad in the band from 10 Hz to 1 MHz.
Abstract: In this Letter, we present an optimized nonlinear amplification scheme in the 2 µm wavelength region. This laser source delivers 50 fs pulses at an 80 MHz repetition rate with exceptional temporal pulse quality and 20 W of average output power. According to predictions from numerical simulations, it is experimentally confirmed that dispersion management is crucial to prevent the growth of side pulses and an increase of the energy content in a temporal pedestal surrounding the self-compressed pulse. Based on these results, we discuss guidelines to ensure high temporal pulse quality from nonlinear femtosecond fiber amplifiers in the anomalous dispersion regime.
Abstract: Liquid-core fibers offer local external control over pulse dispersion due to their strong thermodynamic response, offering a new degree of freedom in accurate soliton steering for reconfigurable nonlinear light generation. Here, we show how to accurately control soliton dynamics and supercontinuum generation in carbon disulfide/silica fibers by temperature and pressure tuning, monitored via the spectral location and the onset energy of non-solitonic radiation. Simulations and phase-matching calculations based on an extended thermodynamic dispersion model of carbon disulfide confirm the experimental results, which allows us to demonstrate the potential of temperature detuning of liquid-core fibers for octave spanning recompressible supercontinuum generation in the near-infrared.
Abstract: We report on soliton-fission mediated infrared supercontinuum generation in liquid-core step-index fibers using highly transparent carbon chlorides (CCl4, C2Cl4). By developing models for the refractive index dispersions and nonlinear response functions, dispersion engineering and pumping with an ultrafast thulium fiber laser (300 fs) at 1.92 µm, distinct soliton fission and dispersive wave generation was observed, particularly in the case of tetrachloroethylene (C2Cl4). The measured results match simulations of both the generalized and a hybrid nonlinear Schrödinger equation, with the latter resembling the characteristics of non-instantaneous medium via a static potential term and representing a simulation tool with substantially reduced complexity. We show that C2Cl4 has the potential for observing non-instantaneous soliton dynamics along meters of liquid-core fiber opening a feasible route for directly observing hybrid soliton dynamics.
Abstract: High-average power laser sources delivering intense few-cycle pulses in wavelength regions beyond the near infrared are promising tools for driving the next generation of high-flux strong-field experiments. In this work, we report on nonlinear pulse compression to 34.4 μJ-, 2.1-cycle pulses with 1.4 GW peak power at a central wavelength of 1.82 μm and an average power of 43 W. This performance level was enabled by the combination of a high-repetition-rate ultrafast thulium-doped fiber laser system and a gas-filled antiresonant hollow-core fiber.
Abstract: We report on a theoretical and experimental study of the energy transfer between an optical evanescent wave, propagating in vacuum along the planar boundary of a dielectric material, and a beam of sub-relativistic electrons. The evanescent wave is excited via total internal reflection in the dielectric by an infrared (λ = 2 μm) femtosecond laser pulse. By matching the electron propagation velocity to the phase velocity of the evanescent wave, energy modulation of the electron beam is achieved. A maximum energy gain of 800 eV is observed, corresponding to the absorption of more than 1000 photons by one electron. The maximum observed acceleration gradient is 19 ± 2 MeV/m. The striking advantage of this scheme is that a structuring of the acceleration element’s surface is not required, enabling the use of materials with high laser damage thresholds that are difficult to nano-structure, such as SiC, Al2O3 or CaF2.
Abstract: The discovery of optical solitons being understood as temporally and spectrally stationary optical states has enabled numerous innovations among which, most notably, supercontinuum light sources have become widely used in both fundamental and applied sciences. Here, we report on experimental evidence for dynamics of hybrid solitons—a new type of solitary wave, which emerges as a result of a strong non-instantaneous nonlinear response in CS2-filled liquid-core optical fibres. Octave-spanning supercontinua in the mid-infrared region are observed when pumping the hybrid waveguide with a 460 fs laser (1.95 μm) in the anomalous dispersion regime at nanojoule-level pulse energies. A detailed numerical analysis well correlated with the experiment uncovers clear indicators of emerging hybrid solitons, revealing their impact on the bandwidth, onset energy and noise characteristics of the supercontinua. Our study highlights liquid-core fibres as a promising platform for fundamental optics and applications towards novel coherent and reconfigurable light sources.
Abstract: The combination of high-repetition-rate ultrafast thulium-doped fiber laser systems and gas-based nonlinear pulse compression in waveguides offers promising opportunities for the development of high-performance few-cycle laser sources at 2 μm wavelength. In this Letter, we report on a nonlinear pulse compression stage delivering 252 μJ, sub-50 fs-pulses at 15.4 W of average power. This performance level was enabled by actively mitigating ultrashort pulse propagation effects induced by the presence of water vapor absorptions.
Abstract: Thulium-doped fiber lasers are an attractive concept for the generation of mid-infrared (mid-IR) ultrashort pulses around 2 μm wavelength with an unprecedented average power. To date, these systems deliver >150 W of average power and GW-class pulse peak powers with output pulse durations of a few hundreds of fs. As some applications can greatly benefit from even shorter pulse durations, the spectral broadening and subsequent temporal pulse compression can be a key enabling technology for high average power few-cycle laser sources around 2 μm wavelength. In this contribution we demonstrate the nonlinear compression of ultrashort pulses from a high repetition rate Tm-doped fiber laser using a nitrogen gas-filled hollow capillary. Pulses with 4 GW peak power, 46 fs FWHM duration at an average power of 15.4 W have been achieved. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first 2 μm laser delivering intense, GW-pulses with sub 50-fs pulse duration and an average power of >10 W. Based on this result, we discuss the next steps towards a 100 W-level, GW-class few-cycle mid-IR laser.
Abstract: Ultrashort-pulse laser systems are an enabling technology for numerous applications. The stability of such systems is especially crucial for frequency metrology and high precision spectroscopy. Thulium-based fiber lasers are an ideal starting point as a reliable and yet powerful source for the nonlinear conversion towards the mid-IR region. Recently, we have demonstrated that nonlinear self-compression in a fused silica solid-core fiber allows for few-cycle pulse duration with up to 24 MW peak power using a high-repetition rate thulium-based fiber laser system operating at around 2 μm wavelength . This experiment operates near the self-focusing limit of about 24 MW for circular polarization, which increases the requirements for the system stability due to the risk of a fiber damage. Here, we present a self-protecting nonlinear compression regime allowing for long-term operation and high output-pulse stability with very similar output performance.
Abstract: Experimental demonstrations of Tm-doped fiber amplifiers (typically in CW- or narrow-band pulsed operation) span a wavelength range going from about 1700 nm to well beyond 2000 nm. Thus, it should be possible to obtain a bandwidth of more than 100 nm, which would enable sub-100 fs pulse duration in an efficient, linear amplification scheme. In fact, this would allow the emission of pulses with less than 20 optical cycles directly from a Tm-doped fiber system, something that seems to be extremely challenging for other dopants in a fused silica fiber. In this contribution, we summarize the current development of our Thulium-doped fiber CPA system, demonstrate preliminary experiments for further scaling and discuss important design factors for the next steps. The current single-channel laser system presented herein delivers a pulse-peak power of 2 GW and a nearly transform-limited pulse duration of 200 fs in combination with 28.7 W of average power. Special care has been taken to reduce the detrimental impact of water vapor absorption by placing the whole system in a dry atmosphere housing (<0.1% rel. humidity) and by using a sufficiently long wavelength (1920-1980 nm). The utilization of a low-pressure chamber in the future will allow for the extension of the amplification bandwidth. Preliminary experiments demonstrating a broader amplification bandwidth that supports almost 100 fs pulse duration and average power scaling to < 100W have already been performed. Based on these results, a Tm-doped fiber CPA with sub-100 fs pulse duration, multi-GW pulse peak power and >100 W average power can be expected in the near future.
Abstract: Thulium-doped fibers with ultra large mode-field areas offer new opportunities for the power scaling of mid-IR ultrashort-pulse laser sources. Here, we present a laser system delivering a pulse-peak power of 2 GW and a nearly transform-limited pulse duration of 200 fs in combination with 28.7 W of average power. This performance level has been achieved by optimizing the pulse shape, reducing the overlap with atmospheric absorption lines, and incorporating a climate chamber to reduce the humidity of the atmospheric environment.
Abstract: We report on the experimental realization of a compact, fiber-based, ultrashort-pulse laser system in the 2 μm wavelength region delivering 24 fs pulse duration with 24 MW pulse peak power and 24.6 W average power. This performance level has been enabled by the favorable quadratic wavelength-dependence of the self-focusing limit, which has been experimentally verified to be at approximately 24 MW for circular polarization in a solid-core fused-silica fiber operated at a wavelength around 2 μm. The anomalous dispersion in this wavelength region allows for a simultaneous nonlinear spectral broadening and temporal pulse compression. This makes an additional compression stage redundant and facilitates a very simple and power-scalable approach. Simulations that include both the nonlinear pulse evolution and the transverse optical Kerr effect support the experimental results.
Abstract: We present a rigorous study on the impact of atmospheric molecular absorption on the linear propagation of ultrashort pulses in the mid-infrared wavelength region. An ultrafast thulium-based fiber laser was employed to experimentally investigate ultrashort-pulse propagation through the atmosphere in a spectral region containing several strong molecular absorption lines. The atmospheric absorption profile causes a significant degradation of the pulse quality in the time domain as well as a distortion of the transverse beam profile in the spatial domain. Numerical simulations carried out in the small signal limit accurately reproduce the experimental observations in the time domain and reveal that the relative loss in peak power after propagation can be more than twice as high as the relative amount of absorbed average power. Although their nature is purely linear (i.e. the intensities considered are sufficiently low) the discussed effects represent significant challenges to performance-scaling of mid-infrared ultrafast lasers operating in spectral regions with molecular absorption bands. Guidelines for an efficient mitigation of the pulse quality degradation and the beam profile distortion are discussed.
Abstract: Nonlinear pulse compression of ultrashort pulses is an established method for reducing the pulse duration and increasing the pulse peak power beyond the intrinsic limits of a given laser architecture. In this proof-of-principle experiment, we demonstrate nonlinear compression of the pulses emitted by a high-repetition-rate thulium-based fiber CPA system. The initial pulse duration of about 400 fs has been shortened to <70 fs with 19.7 μJ of pulse energy, which corresponds to about 200 MW of pulse peak power.
Abstract: The efficient coherent combination of two ultrafast Tm-doped fiber amplifiers in the 2-µm wavelength region is demonstrated. The performance of the combined amplifiers is compared to the output characteristics of a single amplifier being limited by the onset of detrimental nonlinear effects. Nearly transform-limited pulses with 830- fs duration, 22-µJ pulse energy, and 25-MW peak power have been achieved with a combining efficiency greater than 90%. Based on this result, it can be expected that 2-µm-ultrafast-fiber-laser systems will enter new performance realms in the near future.
Abstract: Thulium-based fiber lasers potentially provide for the demand of high average-power ultrafast laser systems operating at an emission wavelength around 2 μm. In this work we use a Tm-doped photonic-crystal fiber (PCF) with a mode field diameter of 36 μm enabling high peak powers without the onset of detrimental nonlinear effects. For the first time a Tm-doped PCF amplifier allows for a pump-power limited average output power of 241 W with a slope efficiency above 50%, good beam quality and linear polarization. A record compressed average power of 152 W and a pulse peak power of more than 4 MW at sub-700 fs pulse duration are enabled by dielectric gratings with diffraction efficiencies higher than 98% leading to a total compression efficiency of more than 70%. A further increase of pulse peak power towards the GW-level is planned by employing Tm-doped large-pitch fibers with mode field diameters well above 50 μm. The coherent combination of ultrafast pulses might eventually lead to kW-level average power and multi-GW peak power.
Abstract: Tm-based fiber-laser systems are an attractive concept for the development of high-performance laser sources in the spectral region around 2 μm wavelength. Here we present a system delivering a pulse-peak power higher than 200 MW in combination with 24 W average power and 120 μJ pulse energy. Key components enabling this performance level are a Tm-doped large-pitch fiber with a mode-field diameter of 65 μm, highly efficient dielectric gratings, and a Tm-based fiber oscillator operating in the stretched-pulse regime.
Abstract: A high-power thulium (Tm)-doped fiber chirped-pulse amplification system emitting a record compressed average output power of 152 W and 4 MW peak power is demonstrated. This result is enabled by utilizing Tm-doped photonic crystal fibers with mode-field diameters of 35 μm, which mitigate detrimental nonlinearities, exhibit slope efficiencies of more than 50%, and allow for reaching a pump-power-limited average output power of 241 W. The high-compression efficiency has been achieved by using multilayer dielectric gratings with diffraction efficiencies higher than 98%.