On diode-pumped solid-state lasers
Abstract: The research that is presented in this thesis can be divided into two major parts. The first part concerns longitudinally pumped, bulk Er-Yb lasers. In these lasers, the main limitation is the thermal shortcomings of the phosphate glass host material. From the laser experiments and the spectroscopic measurements on crystalline host materials, as well as an investigation to bring further light to the physical background of the involved dynamics, the thesis presents some novel results that contribute to the search for a crystalline replacement. The second part concerns novel laser concepts applied to Yb-doped double tungstate lasers. Different crystal orientations are investigated, such as an athermal orientation for reduced thermal lensing and a conical refraction orientation for complete polarization tuning. Furthermore, the introduction of volume Bragg gratings in the cavity enables wide spectral tuning ranges and extremely low quantum defects.Regarding the first part, the main results are the achievement of 15 % slope efficiency in a monolithic, continuous-wave Yb:GdCOB laser and the achievement of Q-switching of the same laser. The Q-switched pulse durations were around 5-6 ns and the Q-switched slope efficiency was 11.6 %. For both lasers, a maximum output power of ?90 mW was obtained, which is close to ordinary glass lasers under similar conditions. A spectroscopic investigation into the Er,Yb-codoped double tungstates was also performed and the results have enabled mathematical modeling of the fluorescence dynamics in these materials. Finally, the temperature dependence of the dynamics in Er,Yb:YAG was studied and the results have given some insight into the physical background of the mechanisms involved.Regarding the second part, different end-pumped Yb:KReW laser cavities were constructed to demonstrate the different concepts. With a laser crystal cut for propagation along the athermal direction at 17º angle clockwise from the dielectric direction Nm, the thermal lens could be reduced by 50 %. In these experiments the maximum output power was 4 W at 60 % slope efficiency. In another cavity incorporating a volume Bragg grating in a retroreflector set-up, the wavelength could be continuously tuned between 997 - 1050 nm. The spectral bandwidth was 10 GHz and the peak output power was 3 W. The same output power could also be obtained at 1063 nm with the grating positioned as an output coupler instead. If, on the other hand, the grating was positioned as an input coupler, 3.6 W output power at 998 nm was obtained at a quantum defect of only 1.6 %. Furthermore, using a crystal oriented for propagation along an optic axis, internal conical refraction could be used to establish arbitrary control of the polarization direction as well as the extinction ratio. Even unpolarized light could be enforced despite the highly anisotropic medium. With this configuration, the maximum output power was 8.6 W at 60 % slope efficiency which equals the performance of a reference crystal with standard orientation. The completely novel concepts of laser tuning with Bragg grating retroreflectors, of low quantum defect through Bragg grating input couplers and of polarization tuning by internal conical refraction can all easily be applied to several other laser materials as well.
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