Nonlinear response in engineered optical materials

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Material and structure engineering are increasingly employed in active optical media,in this context defined as media capable of providing laser or/and optical parametric gain. For laser materials, the main aim of the engineering is to tailor the absorption and emission cross sections in order to optimise the laser performance. At the same time, the engineering also results in a collateral modification of the material’s nonlinear response. In the first part of this work, the nonlinear index of refraction is characterised for two crystallographic forms of laser-ion doped and undoped double-tungstate crystals. These laser crystals have broad gain bandwidths, in particular when doped with Yb3+. As shown in this work, the crystals also have large Kerr nonlinearities, where the values vary significantly for different chemical compositions of the crystals. The combination of a broad gain bandwidthand a high Kerr nonlinearity makes the laser-ion doped double tungstates excellent candidates to employ for the generation of ultrashort laser pulses by Kerr-lens modelocking. The second part of the work relates to the applications of engineered second-order nonlinear media, which here in particular are periodically-poled KTiOPO4 crystals. Periodic structure engineering of second-order nonlinear crystals on a submicrometre scale opens up for the realisation of novel nonlinear devices. By the use of quasi-phase matching in these structures, it is possible to efficiently downconvert a pump wave into two counterpropagating parametric waves, which leads to a device called a mirrorless optical parametric oscillator. The nonlinear response in these engineered submicrometre structures is such that the parametric wave that propagates in the opposite direction of the pump automatically has a narrow bandwidth, whereas the parametric wave that propagates with the pump essentially is a frequency-shifted replica of the pump wave. The unusual spectral properties andthe tunabilities of mirrorless optical parametric oscillators are investigated.