Abstract: The performance of fiber laser systems has drastically increased over recent decades which has opened up new industrial and scientific applications for this technology. However, currently a number of physical effects prevents further power scaling. Coherent combination of beams from multiple emitters has been established as a power scaling technique beyond these limitations. It is possible to increase the average power and, for pulsed laser systems, also parameters such as the pulse energy and the peak power. To realize such laser systems, various aspects have to be taken into account which include beam combination elements, stabilization systems and the output parameters of the individual amplifiers. After an introduction to the topic, various ways of implementing coherent beam combination for ultrashort pulses are explored. Besides the spatial combination of beams, the combination of pulses in time will also be discussed. Recent experimental results will be presented, including multi-dimensional (i.e. spatial and temporal) combination. Finally, an outlook on possible further developments is given, focused on scaling the number of combinable beams and pulses.
Abstract: A novel technique for divided-pulse amplification is presented in a proof-of-principle experiment. A pulse burst, cut out of the pulse train of a mode-locked oscillator, is amplified and temporally combined into a single pulse. High combination efficiency and excellent pulse contrast are demonstrated. The system is mostly fiber-coupled, enabling a high interferometric stability. This approach provides access to the amplitude and phase of the individual pulses in the burst to be amplified, potentially allowing the compensation of gain saturation and nonlinear phase mismatches within the burst. Therefore, this technique enables the scaling of the peak power and pulse energy of pulsed laser systems beyond currently prevailing limitations.
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Physikalisch-Astronomische Fakultät (2017)
Abstract: Ytterbium-doped solid-state lasers are versatile tools for the generation of intense ultrashort pulses, which are the key for many industrial and scientific applications. The performance requirements on the driving laser have become very demanding. High pulse-peak powers and high average powers are desired at the same time, e.g. to initiate a physical process of interest while providing fast data-acquisition times. Although sophisticated state-of-the-art laser concepts have already demonstrated remarkable performance figures, their working principles hamper the simultaneous delivery of both high peak power and high average power. Coherent combination of pulses provided by an amplifier array constitutes a novel concept for scaling both the average power and the peak power. Although this technique is applicable to any laser concept, it is especially well suited for fibers due to their high single-pass gain and their reproducible, excellent beam quality. As the number of amplifier channels may become too large for the ambitious energy levels being targeted, divided-pulse amplification (DPA) – the coherent combination of a pulse burst into a single pulse – can be applied as another energy-scaling approach, which is the focus of this thesis. In this regard, the energy-scalability of DPA implementations as an extension to well established chirped-pulse amplification (CPA) is analyzed. In a first experiment, high-energy operation is demonstrated using an actively-controlled DPA implementation and challenges that occurred are discussed. Next, in a proof-of-principle experiment, the potential of merging spatial and temporal coherent combining concepts in a power- and energy-scalable architecture has been demonstrated. Furthermore, phase stabilization of actively-controlled temporal and spatio-temporal combination implementations is investigated. Based on the findings, the layout of a state-of-the-art high-power fiber-CPA system is improved and extended by eight parallel main-amplifier channels, in which bursts of up to four pulse replicas are amplified that are eventually stacked into a single pulse. With this technique < 300 fs pulses of 12 mJ pulse energy at 700 W average power have been achieved, which is an order of magnitude improvement in both energy and average power compared to the state-of-the-art at the beginning of this work.
Abstract: State-of-the-art ultrafast fiber lasers currently are limited in peak power by excessive nonlinearity and in average power by modal instabilities. Coherent beam combination in space and time is a successful strategy to continue power scaling by circumventing these limitations. Following this approach, we demonstrate an ultrafast fiber-laser system featuring spatial beam combination of 8 amplifier channels and temporal combination of a burst comprising 4 pulses. Active phase stabilization of this 10-armed interferometer is achieved using LOCSET and Hänsch-Couillaud techniques. The system delivers 1 kW average power at 1 mJ pulse energy, being limited by pump power, and delivers 12 mJ pulse energy at 700 W average power, being limited by optically induced damage. The system efficiency is 91% and 78%, respectively, which is due to inequalities of nonlinearity between the amplifier channels and to inequality of power and nonlinearity between the pulses within the burst. In all cases, the pulse duration is ~260 fs and the M2-value is better than 1.2. Further power scaling is possible using more amplifier channels and longer pulse bursts.
Abstract: n this contribution, we present a spatio-temporal coherent beam combining setup in a proof-of-principle experiment with an entirely fiber-coupled front-end. Unlike in previous experiments, where the temporal pulse division was achieved using free-space optical delay lines, the pulses are taken directly from the pulse train of the oscillator. Thereby, the free-space paths and the alignment requirement are cut in half. The combination inevitably remains in free-space considering application in high-power lasers. For the combination of 4 temporally separated pulses, a combining efficiency larger than 95% is demonstrated. The efficiency is largely independent of the combined pulse energy and temporal contrasts close to the theoretically estimated maximum are reached. Potentially, this approach allows for self-optimization of the combination due to the many degrees of freedom accessible with the electro-optic modulators.
Abstract: The noise characteristics of high-power fiber lasers, unlike those of other solid-state lasers such as thin-disks, have not been systematically studied up to now. However, novel applications for high-power fiber laser systems, such as attosecond pulse generation, put stringent limits to the maximum noise level of these sources. Therefore, in order to address these applications, a detailed knowledge and understanding of the characteristics of noise and its behavior in a fiber laser system is required. In this work we have carried out a systematic study of the propagation of the relative intensity noise (RIN) along the amplification chain of a state-of-the-art high-power fiber laser system. The most striking feature of these measurements is that the RIN level is progressively attenuated after each amplification stage. In order to understand this unexpected behavior, we have simulated the transfer function of the RIN in a fiber amplification stage (~80μm core) as a function of the seed power and the frequency. Our simulation model shows that this damping of the amplitude noise is related to saturation. Additionally, we show, for the first time to the best of our knowledge, that the fiber design (e.g. core size, glass composition, doping geometry) can be modified to optimize the noise characteristics of high-power fiber laser systems.
Abstract: Few-cycle lasers are essential for many research areas such as attosecond physics that promise to address fundamental questions in science and technology. Therefore, further advancements are connected to significant progress in the underlying laser technology. Here, two-stage nonlinear compression of a 660 W femtosecond fiber laser system is utilized to achieve unprecedented average power levels of energetic ultrashort or even few-cycle laser pulses. In a first compression step, 408 W, 320 μJ, 30 fs pulses are achieved, which can be further compressed to 216 W, 170 μJ, 6.3 fs pulses in a second compression stage. To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest average power few-cycle laser system presented so far. It is expected to significantly advance the fields of high harmonic generation and attosecond science.
Abstract: An ultrafast fiber chirped-pulse amplifier comprising eight coherently combined amplifier channels is presented. The laser delivers 1 kW average power at 1 mJ pulse energy and 260 fs pulse duration. Excellent beam quality and low-noise performance are confirmed. The laser has proven suitable for demanding scientific applications. Further power scaling is possible right away using even more amplifier channels.
Abstract: An ultrafast fiber-chirped-pulse amplification system using a combination of spatial and temporal coherent pulse com- bination is presented. By distributing the amplification among eight amplifier channels and four pulse replicas, up to 12 mJ pulse energy with 700 W average power and 262 fs pulse duration have been obtained with a system efficiency of 78% and excellent beam quality. To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest energy achieved by an ultrafast fiber-based laser system to date.
Abstract: Actively stabilized, simultaneous spatial and temporal coherent beam combination is a promising power-scaling technique for ultrafast laser systems. For a temporal combination based on optical delay lines, multiple stable states of operation arise for common stabilization techniques. A time resolved Jones’ calculus is applied to investigate the issue. A mitigation strategy based on a temporally gated error signal acquisition is derived and demonstrated, enabling to stabilize laser systems with arbitrary numbers of amplifier channels and optical delay lines.
Abstract: We present a femtosecond laser system delivering up to 100 W of average power at 343 nm. The laser system employs a Yb-based femtosecond fiber laser and subsequent second- and third-harmonic generation in beta barium borate (BBO) crystals. Thermal gradients within these BBO crystals are mitigated by sapphire heat spreaders directly bonded to the front and back surface of the crystals. Thus, a nearly diffraction-limited beam quality (M2<1.4) is achieved, despite the high thermal load to the nonlinear crystals. This laser source is expected to push many industrial and scientific applications in the future.
Abstract: The coherent combination of ultra short laser pulses is a promising approach for scaling the average and peak power of ultrafast lasers. Fiber lasers and amplifiers are especially suited for this technique due to their simple singe-pass setups that can be easily parallelized. Here we propose the combination of the well-known approach of spatially separated amplification with the technique of divided-pulse amplification, i.e. an additionally performed temporally separated amplification. With the help of this multidimensional pulse stacking, laser systems come into reach capable of emitting 10’s of joules of energy at multi-kW average powers that simultaneously employ a manageable number of fibers.
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: Spatially and temporally separated amplification and subsequent coherent addition of femtosecond pulses is a promising performance-scaling approach for ultrafast laser systems. Herein we demonstrate for the first time the application of this multidimensional scheme in a scalable architecture. Applying actively controlled divided-pulse amplification producing up to four pulse replicas that are amplified in two ytterbium-doped step-index fibers (6 μm core), pulse energies far beyond the damage threshold of the single fiber have been achieved. In this proof-of-principle experiment, high system efficiencies are demonstrated at both high pulse energies (i.e., in case of strong saturation) and high accumulated nonlinear phases.
Abstract: In this Letter, we report on a femtosecond fiber chirped-pulse-amplification system based on the coherent combination of the output of four ytterbium-doped large-pitch fibers. Each single channel delivers a peak power of about 6.2 GW after compression. The combined system emits 200 fs long pulses with a pulse energy of 5.7 mJ at 230 W of average power together with an excellent beam quality. The resulting peak power is 22 GW, which to the best of our knowledge is the highest value directly emitted from any fiber-based laser system.
Abstract: In the last decades, ultrafast lasers and amplifiers have achieved an extraordinary power increase and have enabled a plethora of scientific, medical or industrial applications. However, especially in recent years, it has become more and more challenging to keep up with this pace since intrinsic physical limitations are becoming difficult to avoid. A promising way to get around this problem is the technique of spatially and/or temporally separated amplification and subsequent coherent addition of ultrashort pulses. It turns out that fiber amplifiers are perfect candidates for this concept due to their outstanding average-power capability and their simple single-pass setups, which can be easily parallelized. Herein we provide an overview of the most important experimental implementations of this concept and recent results. We discuss the ability of these approaches to generate laser parameters that, only a few years ago, seemed impossible to achieve.
Abstract: Coherent combination of ultrashort laser pulses emitted from spatially separated amplifiers is a promising power-scaling technique for ultrafast laser systems. It has been successfully applied to fiber amplifiers, since guidance of the signal provides the advantage of an excellent beam quality and straightforward superposition of beams as compared to bulk-type amplifier implementations. Herein we demonstrate, for the first time to our knowledge, a two-channel combining scheme employing Yb:YAG single-crystal rod amplifiers as an energy booster in a fiber chirped-pulse amplification system. In this proof-of-principle experiment, combined and compressed pulses with a duration of 695 fs and an energy of 3 mJ (3.7 GW of peak power) are obtained. The combining efficiency is as high as 94% and the beam quality of the combined output is characterized by a measured M2-value of 1.2.
Abstract: The coherent combination of ultrashort pulses has recently been established as a technique to overcome the limitations of laser amplifiers regarding pulse peak-power, pulse energy, and average power. Similar limitations also occur in nonlinear compression setups. In a proof-of-principle experiment, we show that the techniques developed for the combination of amplifiers can be adapted to nonlinear compression. We create two spatially separated pulse replica that undergo self-phase modulation in independent optical fibers and are recombined afterwards. Using this technique we demonstrate operation above the self-focusing threshold of a single pulse. Furthermore, we prove that the recombined pulses can be temporally compressed. This experiment paves the way for higher energy or average power operation of various nonlinear compression setups.
Abstract: Divided-pulse amplification is a promising method for the energy scaling of femtosecond laser amplifiers, where pulses are temporally split prior to amplification and coherently recombined afterwards. We present a method that uses an actively stabilized setup with separated stages for splitting and combining. The additional degrees of freedom can be employed to mitigate the limitations originating from saturation of the amplifier that cannot be compensated in passive double-pass configurations using just one common stage for pulse splitting and combining. In a first proof-of-principle experiment, actively controlled divided pulses are applied in a fiber chirped-pulse amplification system resulting in combined and compressed pulses with an energy of 1.25 mJ and a peak power of 2.9 GW.
Abstract: The energy scaling of ultrashort-pulse systems employing simultaneously the techniques of chirped-pulse amplification and passively combined divided-pulse amplification is analyzed both experimentally and numerically. The maximum achievable efficiency is investigated and fundamental limitations originating from gain saturation, self-phase modulation and depolarization are discussed. A solution to these limitations could be an active stabilization scheme, which would allow for the operation of every single fiber amplifier at higher pulse energies.
Abstract: We report on the nonlinear pulse compression of temporally divided pulses, which is presented in a proof-of-principle experiment. A single 320 fs pulse is divided into four replicas, spectrally broadened in a solid-core fiber, and subsequently recombined. This approach makes it possible to reduce the nonlinearities in the fiber and therefore to use total input peak power of about 13.3 MW, which is more than three times higher than the self-focusing threshold. Finally, the combined output pulse could be compressed to sub-100 fs pulse duration. This general and universal approach holds promise for overcoming fundamental limitations of the pulse peak power that lead to destruction of the fiber or ionization limitations in high-energy hollow-core compression.
Abstract: We report on a femtosecond fiber laser system comprising four coherently combined large-pitch fibers as the main amplifier. With this system, a pulse energy of 1.3 mJ and a peak power of 1.8 GW are achieved at 400 kHz repetition rate. The corresponding average output power is as high as 530 W. Additionally, an excellent beam quality and efficiency of the combination have been obtained. To the best of our knowledge, such a parameter combination, i.e., gigawatt pulses with half a kilowatt average power, has not been demonstrated so far with any other laser architecture.
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Physikalisch-Astronomische Fakultät (2013)
Abstract: High-power ultrafast lasers are beneficial for a vast number of applications ranging from fundamental science all the way to industrial scale materials processing. Especially ytterbium-doped fiber lasers have proven to allow for high average power, high pulse energy and remarkable efficiency at the same time. Therefore, they are ideal candidates for most applications. Over the past decades, their output parameters have been scaled by orders of magnitude. However, further power increase is limited by nonlinear and thermal effects, which cause detrimental distortions of the pulses and beams. Promising approaches to overcome these limitations are spatial and temporal coherent beam combination. In this technique, the power and the scaling challenges are distributed among several pulses during the amplification process and afterwards the pulses are combined into a single output pulse. Thereby, the system efficiency is the most crucial parameter, which describes the quality of the pulse combination. Coherent beam combination can be implemented with an (active) or without (passive) a stabilization system.
In this work, simultaneous implementing of both spatial and temporal beam combining has been investigated in a passively stabilized setup. A cascaded Sagnac interferometer-type implementation has been used to generate and combine two pulse trains of up to four pulses each. An ytterbium-doped fiber amplifier was placed inside the Sagnac loop and was used as main amplification stage of a pre-existing chirped-pulse-amplification system. Temporal delays of 7 ns and 14 ns for the temporal division of 2 ns stretched pulses have been realized. Investigations at low pulse energy showed system efficiencies larger than 80% that decreased to >60% for high pulse energy. Based on simulations it was shown that this degradation is due to differences of the accumulated nonlinear phases of the divided pulses. An actively stabilized setup is proposed, which is able to compensate for the differences in nonlinearities.