New Methods for Generating High-Energy, Broadband Mid-Infrared Laser Pulses

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Example setup of the UCF ultrafast laser system to produce high-energy laser pulses centered around the short to mid-infrared wavelength region (2.4 μm).
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Researchers
Zenghu Chang, Ph.D.
External Link (www.creol.ucf.edu)
Xiaoming Ren, Ph.D
External Link (www.creol.ucf.edu)
Yanchun Yin, Ph.D.
External Link (www.creol.ucf.edu)
Lam Mach
Managed By
John Miner
Assistant Director 407.882.1136
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending

Invention Simplifies Laser Architecture to Generate Millijoule-Level Output at 2.4 Micrometers (μm)

UCF researchers have invented a technique for creating broadband, high-energy laser pulses centered around the short- to mid-infrared region (2.4 μm). The technique, which can be applied to existing laser systems, simplifies laser architectures by requiring fewer gain passes to achieve millijoule level (or higher) output. Additionally, the invention enables broadband output by mitigating the gain narrowing effect seen in conventional systems. Such laser capabilities can be used to advance areas such as biomedical imaging, remote sensing and environmental control.

Ultrafast laser systems typically require complex architectures and multiple amplification stages to achieve millijoule-level energy in the mid-infrared region. Such systems are often hard to build and maintain. They can also suffer from gain narrowing effects that limit the bandwidth of the output laser. In response to these issues, the UCF invention provides new methods for modifying existing laser systems with commercially available products. In one demonstration of the invention, researchers created a microjoule-level seed laser using a Ti:sapphire laser system. With the high-energy seed, fewer gain passes were needed to achieve 1 mJ pulse energy with a 300 nm output bandwidth. Thus, the invention enabled a simplified laser system architecture to generate high-energy laser pulses and limit the gain narrowing effect.

Technical Details

The invention comprises methods for achieving millijoule level (and higher) energy, broad bandwidth laser pulses centered around 2.4 μm with a 1 kilohertz repetition rate. One aspect of the invention includes a method for creating a broadband microjoule level seed laser using difference-frequency generation (DFG), a four-wave mixing process and other techniques. The microjoule-level pulses can then be amplified to above one millijoule through chirped pulse amplification (CPA) in a Cr2+:ZnSe or Cr2+:ZnS crystal pumped by a commercially available Ho:YAG or other appropriate lasers.

Benefits

  • Enables the development of more cost-effective ultrafast laser systems
  • Simplifies laser architectures while achieving millijoule-level output
  • Mitigates the gain narrowing effect
  • Enables the use of mature technologies and commercially available products

Applications

  • Research in high-field physics
  • LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and other remote sensing
  • Biomedical imaging and laser surgery
  • Military