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Optics Express

  • Editor: Michael Duncan
  • Vol. 14, Iss. 11 — May. 29, 2006
  • pp: 4935–4945
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Ultra-short pulse operation of all-optical fiber passively mode-locked ytterbium laser

V. P. Kalosha, Liang Chen, and Xiaoyi Bao  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 14, Issue 11, pp. 4935-4945 (2006)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.14.004935


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Abstract

The generation regimes of an all-fiber passively mode-locked ytterbium laser with intra-cavity photonic crystal fiber have been studied with the aim to provide recipes for obtaining chirp-free sub-picosecond pulses directly from the cavity. Small-beam area photonic-crystal fiber is used for dispersion compensation of the intra-cavity normal dispersion of Yb-doped and single-mode fibers as well as for spectrum expanding due to enhanced nonlinearity. Regions of the gain and fiber parameters near the generation threshold were found in both cases of normal and anomalous net intra-cavity dispersion, which provide a stable generation of ultra-short sub-picosecond pulses directly from the cavity. Laser parameters of a transition to the multi-pulsed generation regimes were also found.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Yb-doped fiber (YDF) lasers have attracted great interest, mainly by virtue of their applications in a variety of spectroscopic applications in material science, biology and medicine [1

1. H. M. Pask, R. J. Carman, D. C. Hanna, A. C. Tropper, C. J. Mackechnie, P. R. Barber, and J.M. Dawes, “Ytterbium-doped silica fiber lasers: versatile sources for the 1–1.2 µm region,” IEEE J. Sel. Topics Quant. Electron. , 1, 2–13 (1995). [CrossRef]

, 2

2. D. T. Walton, J. Nees, and G. Mourou, “Broad-bandwidth pulse amplification to the 10- µJ level in an ytterbium-doped germanosilicate fiber,” Opt. Lett. 21, 1061–1063 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 3

3. V. Cautaerts, D. J. Richardson, R. Paschotta, and D. C. Hanna, “Stretched pulse Yb3+:silica fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 316–318 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Apart from their broader gain bandwidth as compared to Er-doped fibers, they offer higher output power and better pump power conversion efficiency. Many of the complications which are well-known from Er-doped amplifiers are avoided, such as excited state absorption and concentration quenching and Yb-doped fibers can potentially be utilized for development of short-length, high-power and short-pulse fiber lasers. There is also a wide range of possible pumpwavelengths (from 850 to 1050 nm), allowing a variety of pumping schemes including the use of diode lasers. Yb-doped fiber lasers also offer practical advantages over ultra-short solid-state lasers which provide to date the shortest optical pulses from the laser cavity, including small size, weaker sensitivity to misalignments, low cost.

Significant progress was achieved recently in the development of passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber lasers [2

2. D. T. Walton, J. Nees, and G. Mourou, “Broad-bandwidth pulse amplification to the 10- µJ level in an ytterbium-doped germanosilicate fiber,” Opt. Lett. 21, 1061–1063 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 3

3. V. Cautaerts, D. J. Richardson, R. Paschotta, and D. C. Hanna, “Stretched pulse Yb3+:silica fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 316–318 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 4

4. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Femtosecond ytterbium doped fiber laser with photonic crystal fiber for dispersion control,” Opt. Express 10, 1497–1500 (2002), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-10-25-1497. [PubMed]

, 5

5. Y. Deng, M. Koch, F. Lu, G. Wicks, and W. Knox, “Colliding-pulse passive harmonic mode-locking in a femtosecond Yb-doped fiber laser with a semiconductor saturable absorber,” Opt. Express 12, 3872–3877 (2004), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-16-3872. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 6

6. C. K. Nielsen, B. Ortaç, T. Schreiber, J. Limpert, R. Hohmuth, W. Richter, and A. Tünnermann, “Self-starting self-similar all-polarization maintaining Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 9346–9351 (2005), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-13-23-9346. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 7

7. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Chen, and F. Kärtner, “Generation of sub-100-fs pulses at up to 200 MHz repetition rate from a passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2716–2721 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-7-2716. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 8

8. H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, “Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber,” Opt. Express 13, 3460–3464 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-9-3460. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] as well as in the theoretical analysis of their generation regimes [9

9. M. E. Fermann, V. I. Kruglov, B. C. Thomsen, J. M. Dudley, and J. D. Harvey, “Self-Similar Propagation and Amplification of Parabolic Pulses in Optical Fibers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 6010–6013 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 10

10. F. Ö. Ilday, J. R. Buckley, W. G. Clark, and F. W. Wise, “Self-Similar Evolution of Parabolic Pulses in a Laser,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 213902 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The main emphasis was placed on the generation dynamics, and the well-known soliton [11

11. I. N. Duling III, “Subpicosecond all-fiber Erbium laser,” Electron Lett. 27, 544–545 (1991). [CrossRef]

], self-similar pulse [9

9. M. E. Fermann, V. I. Kruglov, B. C. Thomsen, J. M. Dudley, and J. D. Harvey, “Self-Similar Propagation and Amplification of Parabolic Pulses in Optical Fibers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 6010–6013 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] and stretched-pulse generation regimes [12

12. K. Tamura, E. P. Ippen, H. A. Haus, and L. E. Nelson, “77-fs pulse generation from a stretched-pulse mode-locked all-fiber ring laser,” Opt. Lett. 18, 1080–1082 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] were studied. However, the challenge remains of studying the generated pulse characteristics themselves in dependence on laser parameters. It is especially important to find ranges of the parameters which provide the generation of the shortest possible pulses directly from the cavity without additional extra-cavity bulk optical elements for chirp compensation.

In terms of the shortest pulse generation, for both fiber and solid-state passive mode-locked lasers [15

15. V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, J. Herrmann, and S. Gatz, “Spatiotemporal model of femtosecond pulse generation in Kerr-lens mode-locked solid-state lasers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15, 535–550 (1998). [CrossRef]

, 16

16. V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, and J. Herrmann, “Theory of solid-state laser mode locking by coherent semiconductor quantum-well absorbers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 16, 323–338 (1999). [CrossRef]

], the pulse duration is defined by a complicated balance of gain, gain bandwidth, gain saturation, passive modulator efficiency, intra-cavity nonlinearity and dispersion. For a fixed gain bandwidth and gain saturation energy, the higher the sensitivity of the passive modulator to instantaneous changing of the pulse intensity, the shorter the pulse duration that could be achieved. The nonlinear polarization modulator has a high modulation sensitivity and permits to generate the shortest to date pulses from a Yb fiber laser when an additional external pulse compression is used [7

7. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Chen, and F. Kärtner, “Generation of sub-100-fs pulses at up to 200 MHz repetition rate from a passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2716–2721 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-7-2716. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 8

8. H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, “Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber,” Opt. Express 13, 3460–3464 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-9-3460. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 13

13. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Generation of 2-nJ pulses from a femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 660–662 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 14

14. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Buckley, L. Kuznetsova, and F. Wise, “Generation of 36-femtosecond pulses from a ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Express 11, 3550–3554 (2003), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-26-3550. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. In spite of this fact, for passive mode-locking we have chosen a semiconductor saturable modulator (saturable Bragg reflector, SBR) which has relatively slow responce to pulse intensity variations, but is less sensitive to the environmental variations and adjustment [5

5. Y. Deng, M. Koch, F. Lu, G. Wicks, and W. Knox, “Colliding-pulse passive harmonic mode-locking in a femtosecond Yb-doped fiber laser with a semiconductor saturable absorber,” Opt. Express 12, 3872–3877 (2004), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-16-3872. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 6

6. C. K. Nielsen, B. Ortaç, T. Schreiber, J. Limpert, R. Hohmuth, W. Richter, and A. Tünnermann, “Self-starting self-similar all-polarization maintaining Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 9346–9351 (2005), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-13-23-9346. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 10

10. F. Ö. Ilday, J. R. Buckley, W. G. Clark, and F. W. Wise, “Self-Similar Evolution of Parabolic Pulses in a Laser,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 213902 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Fig. 1. Schematic of the laser. YDF: Yb-doped fiber; SMF: single-mode fiber; DCF: photonic crystal fiber as a dispersion-compensating fiber; SBR: saturable Bragg reflector; Out: output coupler; Pump: pump coupler.

Ultra-short and high-intensity intra-cavity pulses necessarily cause an onset of pulse spectrum broadening due to Kerr nonlinearity and nonlinear spectral self-phase modulation. Additionally, chromatic dispersion of the intra-cavity fibers necessarily causes a spectral phase modulation. Both substantially affect the generated pulse duration. Self-phase modulation and dispersion of the typical silica fibers, as YDF and single-mode fibers (SMF) result in normal group-velocity dispersion of the pulse in the near-IR. For a laser system without additional bulk optical elements used for extra-cavity pulse compression, this modulation should be compensated, possibly in a complete way, to ensure the ultimately shortest duration of the pulses generated directly from the cavity for a given gain bandwidth and modulator efficiency. Intra-cavity fiber-based dispersion compensation is possible by a photonic crystal fiber, the only known type of silica fibers with anomalous dispersion in the near-IR [17

17. J. C. Knight, T. A. Birks, P. St. J. Russell, and D. M. Atkin, “All-silica single-mode optical fiber with photonic crystal cladding,” Opt. Lett. 21, 1547–1549 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. We have chosen photonic crystal fiber to serve as a dispersion-compensating fiber (DCF) similar to the laser system developed in Refs. [4

4. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Femtosecond ytterbium doped fiber laser with photonic crystal fiber for dispersion control,” Opt. Express 10, 1497–1500 (2002), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-10-25-1497. [PubMed]

, 8

8. H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, “Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber,” Opt. Express 13, 3460–3464 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-9-3460. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Hence, we have considered a Yb-doped fiber laser with fiber-based semiconductor saturable modulator for the passive mode-locking and with intra-cavity photonic crystal fiber for the dispersion compensation. This system presents a reliable, environmentally-insensitive all-fiber source of ultra-short pulses at 1050 nm suitable for a number of important applications. The motivation of the simulations was to study a fragile balance of numerous factors of pulse shape formation on the basis of a round-trip model of passive mode-locked generation [15

15. V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, J. Herrmann, and S. Gatz, “Spatiotemporal model of femtosecond pulse generation in Kerr-lens mode-locked solid-state lasers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15, 535–550 (1998). [CrossRef]

, 16

16. V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, and J. Herrmann, “Theory of solid-state laser mode locking by coherent semiconductor quantum-well absorbers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 16, 323–338 (1999). [CrossRef]

, 18

18. J. N. Kutz, B. C. Collings, K. Bergman, S. Tsuda, S. T. Cundiff, W. H. Knox, P. Holmes, and M. Weinstein, “Mode-locking pulse dynamics in a fiber laser with a saturable Bragg reflector,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 14, 2681–2689 (1997). [CrossRef]

] and to reveal the ranges of YDF gain and DCF length which provide cw generation of the shortest possible pulses ~100 fs for the currently available YDF, SMF and SBR. Pulse parameters as a function of the laser parameters were studied in both cases of normal and anomalous intra-cavity dispersion. Intra-cavity fiber parameters and gain were also found which provide the transition to the multi-pulsed generation regime.

2. Round-trip laser model and laser elements characterization

The laser system under consideration includes Yb-doped fiber, single-mode fiber, photonic crystal fiber as a dispersion-compensating fiber, passive modulator, and output coupler (Fig. 1). In the round-trip model of the passive mode-locked laser the generation pulse is formed as a result of multiple uni-directional passes of a seed noise pulse through all intra-cavity elements.

The propagation of the generation pulse in the YDF is described by the nonlinear Ginzburg-Landau equation which includes the effects of dispersion, Kerr nonlinearity, linear loss and saturated gain of the finite bandwidth [19

19. H. A. Haus, J. G. Fujimoto, and E. P. Ippen, “Structures for additive pulse mode locking,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 2068–2076 (1991). [CrossRef]

]:

Ez=12iβ22Et2+iγE2EΓE+g(z)(1+τg22t2)E,
(1)

where E(z,t) is the slowly-varying pulse field, β 2 is the group-velocity dispersion parameter, γ is the nonlinear parameter, Γ is the linear loss, z is the distance along the fiber, t is the pulse local time. The Yb-doped fiber is characterized also by the finite gain bandwidth Δλ g with the corresponding temporal parameter τg=2π/(ck 2Δλg) and by the saturated dynamic gain

g(z)=g0(1+𝓔0(z)𝓔sat),
(2)

where g 0 is the small-signal gain defined by the pump power level, 𝓔 sat is the saturation energy, 𝓔 0(z) is the current total pulse energy, k=ω 0/c is the wavenumber, ω 0 is the carrier frequency, c is the velocity of light. The propagation within the SMF and DCF is modeled by the nonlinear Schrödinger equation [20

20. G. P. Agrawal, “Nonlinear fiber optics” (San Diego, Academic Press, 1995).

], which includes the effects of dispersion, Kerr nonlinearity and linear loss (first three terms in the rhs part of Eq. (1)):

Ez=12iβ22Et2+iγE2EΓE.
(3)

As we expect generation of ~100-fs pulses we can ignore higher-order dispersion terms in Eqs. (1) and (3). This is in contrast to the case of Yb lasers using nonlinear polarization evolution for mode locking [7

7. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Chen, and F. Kärtner, “Generation of sub-100-fs pulses at up to 200 MHz repetition rate from a passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2716–2721 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-7-2716. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 8

8. H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, “Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber,” Opt. Express 13, 3460–3464 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-9-3460. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 13

13. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Generation of 2-nJ pulses from a femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 660–662 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 14

14. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Buckley, L. Kuznetsova, and F. Wise, “Generation of 36-femtosecond pulses from a ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Express 11, 3550–3554 (2003), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-26-3550. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] which generate broader spectra corresponding to sub-50-fs pulses.

Table 1. Intra-cavity fiber parameters used in the simulations of the laser dynamics

table-icon
View This Table

In our laser system we use the active fiber with the parameters of commercially available Yb-doped fiber from INO [21] and single-mode fiber FLEXCOR 1060. The parameters β 2, γ and Γ are different for each of the intra-cavity fibers and are given in Table 1. One should especially note the negative group-velocity dispersion parameter β 2 of the DCF at the carrier wavelength λ0=1050 nm (Fig. 2(a)) and the order-of-magnitude smaller effective area of the fundamental mode A eff (Fig. 2(b)). Therefore, varying the length of DCF one can balance the normal dispersion of the two other intra-cavity fibers and their normal self-phase modulation. Additionally, the DCF has a higher nonlinear parameter γ=kn 2/A eff and contributes substantially into the nonlinear broadening of the generating pulse, as is shown below. Here n 2=2.6×10-20 m2/W is the nonlinear refractive index which we suppose to be the same for all intra-cavity silica fibers.

Fig. 2. Group-velocity dispersion parameter (a) and effective area (b) versus wavelength for silica fibers as indicated, used in the simulations of the laser dynamics. The parameters of the fibers are given in Table 1. The results for the YDF and SMF were calculated under the assumptions of step-index refractive index profile and with the help of exact analytical solution of the vector wave equation [22]. The results for the DCF were calculated under the assumption of the hexagonal air hole structure in silica (inset) and by the numerical solution of the vector wave equation by the finite-element method [23]. The waveguide dispersion and silica material dispersion [20] were taken into account.

The saturated Bragg reflector consists of multiple AlGaAs/GaAs layers grown by molecular beam epitaxy on a thick GaAs substrate, which provide high broadband reflection at ~1050 nm, and InGaAs quantum wells, which provide the nonlinear response of the reflection to the intensity variations of the reflected pulse with fast and slow temporal responses. The fast component of the reflection response arises from the thermalization of the bandedge-excited carriers and is faster than ~100 fs. The slow component with characteristic time constant τ slow=10 ps is caused by the nonradiative recombination of the excited carriers.

The combined SBR response is implemented into the round-trip model by the relative changing of the electric field of the pulse field as follows [18

18. J. N. Kutz, B. C. Collings, K. Bergman, S. Tsuda, S. T. Cundiff, W. H. Knox, P. Holmes, and M. Weinstein, “Mode-locking pulse dynamics in a fiber laser with a saturable Bragg reflector,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 14, 2681–2689 (1997). [CrossRef]

]:

δE(t)E(t)=σlinσfast(1E(t)2Epeak2)
σslow{1𝓔(t)𝓔0exp[H(ttpeak)ttpeakτslow]}.
(4)

Fig. 3. Steady-state pulse spectrum for DCF length between 60 and 115 cm (from the bottom to the top) (a), spectrum peak position versus DCF length (inset) and steady-state pulse duration (red curves) and corresponding transform-limited pulse duration (green curves) as functions of DCF length and net intra-cavity group-velocity dispersion (b) in the case when Kerr nonlinearity in all intra-cavity fibers is neglected and for the gain parameter g 0=0.75 dB/m. Spectra are shown for the DCF lengths indicated by circles in the inset.

We have modeled the generation of a passive mode-locked fiber laser by multiple solutions successively of Eq. (1) for YDF and corresponding Eqs. (3) for SMF and DCF in the described order (Fig. 1), starting from the initial noise pulse. This was accompanied by field transformation according to Eq. (4) and output losses at each cavity round-trip. We have proceeded for many 1000s of round-trips till steady state was reached with the pulse shape and spectrum unchanging during several 100s of round-trips. Steady-state pulse and all its properties such as shape, spectrum, instantaneous frequency and spectral delay were monitored at different intra-cavity positions.

For the chosen group-velocity dispersion parameters of the fibers (Table 1) the net intra-cavity dispersion parameter β2YDF LYDF +β2SMF LSMF +β2DCF L DCF is zero for the specific DCF length L*DCF ≈ 86.9 cm. We study the laser dynamics in the vicinity of L*DCF for both signs of the net intra-cavity dispersion. Typically when there is a large excess of normal or anomalous dispersion in the cavity the model developed does not give a stable ultra-short pulse generation.

Fig. 4. Steady-state pulse temporal shape (lhs column), spectrum and group delay (rhs column) for L DCF=85 (top row) and 88 cm (bottom row) in the case without (curves 1) and with (curves 2) Kerr nonlinearity in the DCF fiber and for the gain parameter g 0=0.7 dB/m.

3. Generated pulse parameters of the passively mode-locked fiber laser

Our aim is to explore the role of the photonic crystal fiber with its anomalous dispersion in intra-cavity dispersion compensation and in the spectrum broadening owing to its enhanced nonlinearity. Because of a large number of laser parameters and a large variety of generation regimes, let us first consider the oversimplified case where the nonlinearity in all the fibers is neglected. Then the role of the SBR becomes more transparent.

Figure 3 presents steady-state pulse spectra for the case of the absence of Kerr nonlinearity in all intra-cavity fibers (all nonlinear parameters were supposed to be equal to zero in Eqs. (13)). It is seen that for the DCF length close to L*DCF a compensation of intra-cavity dispersion is achieved. When the net intra-cavity dispersion is normal (anomalous) the pulse spectrum has a red (blue) shift from the carrier frequency (inset). The shift is caused by the pulse transformation due to combined fast and slow response of the SBR. According to Eq. (4) the pulse leading front gets the enhancement by the SBR, where red or blue part of the spectrum is located in dependence on the sign of the intra-cavity dispersion. This results in the pulse spectrum shift to the corresponding direction from the carrier frequency which is ultimately restricted by the finite gain bandwidth at the steady-state. For the DCF length close to L*DCF of zero net dispersion the laser generates a steady-state pulse with an extremely broad spectrum that is comparable to the gain linewidth, negligible phase modulation and minimal pulse duration (Fig. 3(b)). This duration is close to the duration of the corresponding transform-limited pulse obtained by a complete elimination of nonlinear spectral phase dependence on the frequency.

Fig. 5. Steady-state pulse duration (red curves) and corresponding transform-limited pulse duration (green curves) versus gain parameter g 0 for different DCF length as indicated in the case of the normal (a) and anomalous (b) net intra-cavity group-velocity dispersion.

The central result of the laser dynamics simulations is presented in Fig. 5 where the generated pulse duration versus the gain g 0 is shown for different DCF fiber length, when the net intra-cavity dispersion is normal (a) and anomalous (b) and when the nonlinearity in all the fibers is taken into account. The curves are shown at limited gain parameter ranges where the stable pulsed generation takes place. They start at the threshold gain values and end at the gain parameters which give the onset of multi-pulsed generation. The ranges of the stable ultra-short pulse generation are wider in the case of the normal net intra-cavity dispersion. For this case the shorter the DCF length, the larger the gain parameter interval where the stable pulsed generation occurs. However, for decreasing DCF length, beginning from the value of zero net intra-cavity dispersion, the pulse becomes longer and possesses larger phase modulation. For the DCF length closest to that of zero net intra-cavity dispersion the stable generation is obtained in the restricted interval of the gain parameter but with sub-ps duration generated directly from the cavity without additional chirp compensating elements. The duration of the corresponding transform-limited pulses is well below 100 fs.

Fig. 6. Pulse transformation along the cavity in the case of normal net intra-cavity group-velocity dispersion, when L DCF=86 cm, and g 0=0.5 dB/m: (a) pulse temporal shape (red curves, left axis) and instantaneous frequency shift (green curves, right axis), (b) spectrum (red curves, left axis) and group delay (green curves, right axis) after the propagation through YDF (curves 1), SMF (2) and DCF (3).

Generation of sub-ps directly from the cavity takes place also for the DCF lengths which result in anomalous net intra-cavity dispersion, with even shorter pulse duration ~300 fs (Fig. 5(b)). The gain parameter ranges of the stable pulsed generation are much narrower in this case. As the mutual compensation of the phase modulation due to the self-phase modulation and anomalous dispersion partially occurs, the durations of the pulse and the corresponding transform-limited pulse differ from each other less dramatically. The pulse is shorter in the case of anomalous net dispersion as compared to the case of normal dispersion (cf. red lines in Fig. 5(a) and (b)). For the anomalous dispersion the stretched-pulse generation regime takes place with different signs of the phase modulation in different cavity locations, therefore the phase compensation could be even more complete at some positions inside the cavity and the difference between the pulse and its transform-limited counterpart could be even smaller there.

4. Discussion

We note that according to Fig. 4 the dispersion of the intra-cavity fibers plays the dominant role in the steady-state pulse phase modulation over the finite gain bandwidth and passive modulator efficiency. However, the pulse duration itself is a sensitive function of all parameters of the laser such as nonlinearity, dispersion, gain, gain bandwidth, passive modulator parameters. The generation of the shortest possible pulses directly from the cavity and without additional chirp compensation requires a fragile adjustment of all these factors (Fig. 5).

Fig. 7. The same as in Fig. 6 but in the case of anomalous net intra-cavity group-velocity dispersion, when L=87 cm, and g 0=0.6 dB/m.

The round-trip model of the passive mode-locked fiber laser incorporates self-consistently the interrelation of both phase effects (typically referred to as a soliton pulse formation by the balance of the dispersion and the nonlinearity) and amplitude effects (owing to the passive mode locking in competition with the gain of finite bandwidth). Varying the amount of the intra-cavity dispersion by DCF fiber length, we have revealed different generation regimes of the laser system. In soliton lasers [11

11. I. N. Duling III, “Subpicosecond all-fiber Erbium laser,” Electron Lett. 27, 544–545 (1991). [CrossRef]

] a pulse is generated which maintains an almost unchanged temporal shape during one round-trip. A laser in the self-similar regime under normal intra-cavity dispersion [9

9. M. E. Fermann, V. I. Kruglov, B. C. Thomsen, J. M. Dudley, and J. D. Harvey, “Self-Similar Propagation and Amplification of Parabolic Pulses in Optical Fibers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 6010–6013 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 10

10. F. Ö. Ilday, J. R. Buckley, W. G. Clark, and F. W. Wise, “Self-Similar Evolution of Parabolic Pulses in a Laser,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 213902 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 6

6. C. K. Nielsen, B. Ortaç, T. Schreiber, J. Limpert, R. Hohmuth, W. Richter, and A. Tünnermann, “Self-starting self-similar all-polarization maintaining Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 9346–9351 (2005), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-13-23-9346. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] generates pulses with spectra of a parabolic top and steep edges, and with linear chirp, increasing during the propagation in the fibers. A stretched-pulse laser [12

12. K. Tamura, E. P. Ippen, H. A. Haus, and L. E. Nelson, “77-fs pulse generation from a stretched-pulse mode-locked all-fiber ring laser,” Opt. Lett. 18, 1080–1082 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 13

13. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Generation of 2-nJ pulses from a femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 660–662 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 14

14. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Buckley, L. Kuznetsova, and F. Wise, “Generation of 36-femtosecond pulses from a ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Express 11, 3550–3554 (2003), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-26-3550. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] has a cavity with fiber sections of normal and anomalous dispersion, causing the phase modulation to change the sign during one round trip.

Actually when one desires to obtain a shortest possible pulse directly from the cavity, the features of these different mechanisms should be combined with the advantage of the pulse shortening due to the passive modulator and the restrictions from the finite gain bandwidth. A precise balance of all effects should be found for this purpose. The shortest pulses are generated at the gain slightly exceeding the threshold (Fig. 5). When the gain exceeds the threshold further, the nonlinearity in the fibers contributes substantially into the pulse phase modulation giving the onset of the multi-pulsed regime and generation instability. A stable cw generation of a single pulse per round-trip is hindered with the gain growth stronger at the stretched-pulse regime due to complexification of the self-phase modulation and inevitable increasing of the stretching ratio at different intra-cavity fibers.

For the shortest pulse generated from the cavity one also has to take into account how the pulse transforms along the cavity. For normal net intra-cavity dispersion the shortest pulse is after propagation through the DCF (Fig. 6). The group delay interval becomes successively smaller after passes of each of the fibers and preserves the positive slope corresponding to the dispersion sign of the fibers (Fig. 6(b)). For anomalous net dispersion (Fig. 7) the pulse chirp could be of opposite signs after propagation of SMF and DCF and for some sets of fibers and gain parameters a complete chirp compensation with an almost transform-limited pulse could occur at some intra-cavity locations (curves 1 in Fig. 7). As a result, for the chosen parameters and the order of uni-directional passes through all three intra-cavity fibers (section 2), a preferable place to output the shortest generated pulse is before and after the YDF for normal and anomalous net dispersion, respectively.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, we have modeled the mode-locking pulsed dynamics in an all-fiber Yb-doped laser with a photonic crystal fiber and a saturable Bragg reflector. The simulations were performed for both cases of normal and anomalous net intra-cavity dispersion. We have demonstrated the features of the self-similar pulse and stretched pulse generation as a function of the amount of anomalous group-velocity dispersion introduced by the photonic crystal fiber. It is shown that with a balance of all factors of pulse formation, such as intra-cavity dispersion, nonlinearity, saturated gain and gain bandwidth, and modulation efficiency of the passive modulator, the range of laser parameters could be found which provide cw generation of the pulses as short as 100–200 fs directly from the laser cavity. Thereby the possibility of sub-ps all-optical fiber ytterbium laser without additional extra-cavity chirp-compensating elements is shown. The ranges of laser parameters were also revealed which provide transition to the multi-pulsed generation regime.

Acknowledgment

This work was supported by the Canadian Institute of Photonic Innovation, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Research Chair Program. One of the authors (V.P.K.) thanks Dr. Y. Logvin for valuable discussions and suggestions.

References and links

1.

H. M. Pask, R. J. Carman, D. C. Hanna, A. C. Tropper, C. J. Mackechnie, P. R. Barber, and J.M. Dawes, “Ytterbium-doped silica fiber lasers: versatile sources for the 1–1.2 µm region,” IEEE J. Sel. Topics Quant. Electron. , 1, 2–13 (1995). [CrossRef]

2.

D. T. Walton, J. Nees, and G. Mourou, “Broad-bandwidth pulse amplification to the 10- µJ level in an ytterbium-doped germanosilicate fiber,” Opt. Lett. 21, 1061–1063 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

3.

V. Cautaerts, D. J. Richardson, R. Paschotta, and D. C. Hanna, “Stretched pulse Yb3+:silica fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 316–318 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Femtosecond ytterbium doped fiber laser with photonic crystal fiber for dispersion control,” Opt. Express 10, 1497–1500 (2002), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-10-25-1497. [PubMed]

5.

Y. Deng, M. Koch, F. Lu, G. Wicks, and W. Knox, “Colliding-pulse passive harmonic mode-locking in a femtosecond Yb-doped fiber laser with a semiconductor saturable absorber,” Opt. Express 12, 3872–3877 (2004), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-16-3872. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

C. K. Nielsen, B. Ortaç, T. Schreiber, J. Limpert, R. Hohmuth, W. Richter, and A. Tünnermann, “Self-starting self-similar all-polarization maintaining Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 9346–9351 (2005), http://www.opticsexpress.org/abstract.cfm?URI=OPEX-13-23-9346. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

F. Ö. Ilday, J. Chen, and F. Kärtner, “Generation of sub-100-fs pulses at up to 200 MHz repetition rate from a passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2716–2721 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-7-2716. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, “Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber,” Opt. Express 13, 3460–3464 (2005), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-9-3460. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

9.

M. E. Fermann, V. I. Kruglov, B. C. Thomsen, J. M. Dudley, and J. D. Harvey, “Self-Similar Propagation and Amplification of Parabolic Pulses in Optical Fibers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 6010–6013 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

10.

F. Ö. Ilday, J. R. Buckley, W. G. Clark, and F. W. Wise, “Self-Similar Evolution of Parabolic Pulses in a Laser,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 213902 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

11.

I. N. Duling III, “Subpicosecond all-fiber Erbium laser,” Electron Lett. 27, 544–545 (1991). [CrossRef]

12.

K. Tamura, E. P. Ippen, H. A. Haus, and L. E. Nelson, “77-fs pulse generation from a stretched-pulse mode-locked all-fiber ring laser,” Opt. Lett. 18, 1080–1082 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

13.

H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, “Generation of 2-nJ pulses from a femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 660–662 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

F. Ö. Ilday, J. Buckley, L. Kuznetsova, and F. Wise, “Generation of 36-femtosecond pulses from a ytterbium fiber laser,” Opt. Express 11, 3550–3554 (2003), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-11-26-3550. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

15.

V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, J. Herrmann, and S. Gatz, “Spatiotemporal model of femtosecond pulse generation in Kerr-lens mode-locked solid-state lasers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15, 535–550 (1998). [CrossRef]

16.

V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, and J. Herrmann, “Theory of solid-state laser mode locking by coherent semiconductor quantum-well absorbers,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 16, 323–338 (1999). [CrossRef]

17.

J. C. Knight, T. A. Birks, P. St. J. Russell, and D. M. Atkin, “All-silica single-mode optical fiber with photonic crystal cladding,” Opt. Lett. 21, 1547–1549 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

18.

J. N. Kutz, B. C. Collings, K. Bergman, S. Tsuda, S. T. Cundiff, W. H. Knox, P. Holmes, and M. Weinstein, “Mode-locking pulse dynamics in a fiber laser with a saturable Bragg reflector,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 14, 2681–2689 (1997). [CrossRef]

19.

H. A. Haus, J. G. Fujimoto, and E. P. Ippen, “Structures for additive pulse mode locking,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 2068–2076 (1991). [CrossRef]

20.

G. P. Agrawal, “Nonlinear fiber optics” (San Diego, Academic Press, 1995).

21.

http://www.ino.ca.

22.

A. W. Snyder and J. D. Love, “Optical Waveguide Theory” (London, Chapman and Hall, 1983).

23.

J. Jin, “The Finite Element Method in Electrodynamics” (New York, Wiley, 1993).

24.

http://www.batop.de.

25.

F. Luan, J. Knight, P. Russell, S. Campbell, D. Xiao, D. Reid, B. Mangan, D. Williams, and P. Roberts, “Femtosecond soliton pulse delivery at 800nm wavelength in hollow-core photonic bandgap fibers,” Opt. Express 12, 835–840 (2004), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-12-5-835. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.3510) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, fiber
(230.3990) Optical devices : Micro-optical devices
(320.7090) Ultrafast optics : Ultrafast lasers

ToC Category:
Ultrafast Optics

History
Original Manuscript: March 13, 2006
Revised Manuscript: May 1, 2006
Manuscript Accepted: May 2, 2006
Published: May 29, 2006

Citation
V. P. Kalosha, Liang Chen, and Xiaoyi Bao, "Ultra-short pulse operation of all-optical fiber passively mode-locked ytterbium laser," Opt. Express 14, 4935-4945 (2006)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-14-11-4935


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References

  1. H. M. Pask, R. J. Carman, D. C. Hanna, A. C. Tropper, C. J. Mackechnie, P. R. Barber, and J. M. Dawes, "Ytterbiumdoped silica fiber lasers: versatile sources for the 1-1.2 μm region," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum. Electron. 1, 2-13 (1995). [CrossRef]
  2. D. T. Walton, J. Nees, and G. Mourou, "Broad-bandwidth pulse amplification to the 10- μJ level in an ytterbiumdoped germanosilicate fiber," Opt. Lett. 21, 1061-1063 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. V. Cautaerts, D. J. Richardson, R. Paschotta, and D. C. Hanna, "Stretched pulse Yb3+:silica fiber laser," Opt. Lett. 22, 316-318 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, "Femtosecond ytterbium doped fiber laser with photonic crystal fiber for dispersion control," Opt. Express 10, 1497-1500 (2002). [PubMed]
  5. Y. Deng, M. Koch, F. Lu, G. Wicks, and W. Knox, "Colliding-pulse passive harmonic mode-locking in a femtosecond Yb-doped fiber laser with a semiconductor saturable absorber," Opt. Express 12, 3872-3877 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. C. K. Nielsen, B. Ortac, T. Schreiber, J. Limpert, R. Hohmuth, W. Richter, and A. Tünnermann, "Self-starting self-similar all-polarization maintaining Yb-doped fiber laser," Opt. Express 13, 9346-9351 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Chen, and F. Kärtner, "Generation of sub-100-fs pulses at up to 200 MHz repetition rate from a passively mode-locked Yb-doped fiber laser," Opt. Express 13, 2716-2721 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. H. Lim, A. Chong, and F. Wise, "Environmentally-stable femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser with birefringent photonic bandgap fiber," Opt. Express 13, 3460-3464 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. M. E. Fermann, V. I. Kruglov, B. C. Thomsen, J. M. Dudley, and J. D. Harvey, "Self-similar propagation and amplification of parabolic pulses in optical fibers," Phys. Rev. Lett. 84, 6010-6013 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. F. Ö. Ilday, J. R. Buckley, W. G. Clark, and F. W. Wise, "Self-similar evolution of parabolic pulses in a laser," Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 213902 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. I. N. DulingIII, "Subpicosecond all-fiber Erbium laser," Electron Lett. 27, 544-545 (1991). [CrossRef]
  12. K. Tamura, E. P. Ippen, H. A. Haus, and L. E. Nelson, "77-fs pulse generation from a stretched-pulse mode-locked all-fiber ring laser," Opt. Lett. 18, 1080-1082 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. H. Lim, F. Ö. Ilday, and F. W. Wise, "Generation of 2-nJ pulses from a femtosecond ytterbium fiber laser," Opt. Lett. 28, 660-662 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. F. Ö. Ilday, J. Buckley, L. Kuznetsova, and F. Wise, "Generation of 36-femtosecond pulses from a ytterbium fiber laser," Opt. Express 11, 3550-3554 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. V. P. Kalosha, M. M¨uller, J. Herrmann, and S. Gatz, "Spatiotemporal model of femtosecond pulse generation in Kerr-lens mode-locked solid-state lasers," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 15, 535-550 (1998). [CrossRef]
  16. V. P. Kalosha, M. Müller, and J. Herrmann, "Theory of solid-state laser mode locking by coherent semiconductor quantum-well absorbers," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 16, 323-338 (1999). [CrossRef]
  17. J. C. Knight, T. A. Birks, P. St. J. Russell, and D. M. Atkin, "All-silica single-mode optical fiber with photonic crystal cladding," Opt. Lett. 21, 1547-1549 (1996). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  18. J. N. Kutz, B. C. Collings, K. Bergman, S. Tsuda, S. T. Cundiff, W. H. Knox, P. Holmes, and M. Weinstein, "Mode-locking pulse dynamics in a fiber laser with a saturable Bragg reflector," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 14, 2681-2689 (1997). [CrossRef]
  19. H. A. Haus, J. G. Fujimoto, E. P. Ippen, "Structures for additive pulse mode locking," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 2068-2076 (1991). [CrossRef]
  20. G. P. Agrawal, "Nonlinear fiber optics" (San Diego, Academic Press, 1995).
  21. http://www.ino.ca.
  22. A. W. Snyder and J. D. Love, Optical Waveguide Theory (London, Chapman and Hall, 1983).
  23. J. Jin, Finite Element Method in Electrodynamics (New York, Wiley, 1993).
  24. http://www.batop.de.
  25. F. Luan, J. Knight, P. Russell, S. Campbell, D. Xiao, D. Reid, B. Mangan, D. Williams, and P. Roberts, "Femtosecond soliton pulse delivery at 800nm wavelength in hollow-core photonic bandgap fibers," Opt. Express 12, 835-840 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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