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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 19, Iss. 23 — Nov. 7, 2011
  • pp: 22510–22514
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Megawatt level UV output from [110] Cr4+:YAG passively Q-switched microchip laser

Rakesh Bhandari and Takunori Taira  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 23, pp. 22510-22514 (2011)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.19.022510


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Abstract

Recent development of megawatt peak power, giant pulse microchip lasers has opened new opportunities for efficient wavelength conversion, provided the output of the microchip laser is linearly polarized. We obtain > 2 MW peak power, 260 ps, 100 Hz pulses at 266 nm by fourth harmonic conversion of a linearly polarized Nd:YAG microchip laser that is passively Q-switched with [110] cut Cr4+:YAG. The SHG and FHG conversion efficiencies are 85% and 51%, respectively.

© 2011 OSA

1. Introduction

Ultraviolet (UV) laser sources are needed for a variety of applications, such as, ultrafast UV spectroscopy, photolithography, micromachining, etc. High peak power, pulsed UV lasers are normally identified with large, difficult to own and maintain laser systems that limit their applications. There is a need for compact, easy to maintain and use UV laser sources.

Passively Q-switched microchip lasers offer a great advantage of sub-nanosecond pulse- width operation, resulting in a high peak power output in a very compact size [1

1. J. J. Zayhowski, “Microchip lasers,” Opt. Mater. 11(2-3), 255–267 (1999). [CrossRef]

4

4. S. Hayashi, T. Shibuya, H. Sakai, T. Taira, C. Otani, Y. Ogawa, and K. Kawase, “Tunability enhancement of a terahertz-wave parametric generator pumped by a microchip Nd:YAG laser,” Appl. Opt. 48(15), 2899–2902 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The high peak power of these microchip lasers can also be used for efficient wavelength conversion [5

5. T. Taira and T. Kobayashi, “Q-switching and frequency doubling of solid-state lasers by a single intracavity KTP crystal,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 30(3), 800–804 (1994). [CrossRef]

7

7. J. J. Zayhowski, C. Dill III, C. Cook, and J. L. Daneu, “Mid-and high-power passively Q-switched microchip lasers,” in Proceeding of Advanced Solid-State Lasers, M. M. Fejer, H. Injeyan, and U. Keller, eds., Vol. 26 of OSA Trends in Optics and Photonic Series (Optical Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1999), pp. 178–186.

]. Recently, we have developed megawatt peak power microchip lasers for laser ignition for use in automobiles [8

8. M. Tsunekane, T. Inohara, A. Ando, N. Kido, K. Kanehara, and T. Taira, “High peak power, passively Q-switched microlaser for ignition of engines,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 46(2), 277–284 (2010). [CrossRef]

10]. However, Nd:YAG microchip lasers used in these systems use either [100] cut Cr4+:YAG single crystal [8

8. M. Tsunekane, T. Inohara, A. Ando, N. Kido, K. Kanehara, and T. Taira, “High peak power, passively Q-switched microlaser for ignition of engines,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 46(2), 277–284 (2010). [CrossRef]

], or Cr4+:YAG ceramics [9

9. N. Pavel, M. Tsunekane, and T. Taira, “Composite, all-ceramics, high-peak power Nd:YAG/Cr4+:YAG monolithic micro-laser with multiple-beam output for engine ignition,” Opt. Express 19(10), 9378–9384 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,10], as the saturable absorber for passive Q-switching. This generates a laser output with unstable polarization that is not suitable for efficient wavelength conversion.

In this paper, we present a very compact microchip laser that uses [110] cut Cr4+:YAG for passive Q-switching to generate stable, linearly polarized output pulses. Although this concept had been reported earlier [11

11. H. Sakai, A. Sone, H. Kan, and T. Taira, “Polarization stabilizing for diode-pumped passively Q-switched Nd:YAG microchip lasers,” in Advanced Solid-State Photonics, Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 2006), paper MD2.

], it had been verified only for low pulse energies (< 1 mJ). We apply this concept to generate high peak power, linearly polarized pulses at 1064 nm, from which we obtain second harmonic generation (SHG) using Type I LiB3O5 (Lithium Triborate, LBO), and fourth harmonic generation (FHG) using Type Iβ-BaB2O4 (β-barium borate, BBO). The SHG conversion efficiency was 85%, whereas the green-to-UV conversion efficiency in the FHG stage was 51%.

As a consequence, we obtain a stable pulse train having > 2 MW peak power with 260 ps pulse width at 266 nm wavelength and 100 Hz repetition rate. We believe that this is the first demonstration of megawatt level peak power at UV wavelength using microchip lasers.

2. Laser structure

The laser structure is shown in Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Laser structure. The output is linearly polarized along the <001> crystallographic axis of Cr4+:YAG.
. A 4 mm-thick 1.1 at. % [111] cut Nd:YAG crystal (Scientific Materials Corp.) was pumped in the quasi-continuous-wave (QCW) regime by a fiber-coupled, 120 W, 808 nm laser diode (600 μm core diameter, 0.22 NA, JOLD-120-QPXF-2P of Jenoptik) at 100 Hz. A 30% initial transmission, [110] cut Cr4+:YAG crystal (Scientific Materials Corp.) was used for passive Q-switching. A flat coupler with a transmission of 50% was used at the output. The total cavity length was 11 mm. A TE cooler (30 W, 30x30 mm peltier made by KELK Ltd., temperature controlled by ILX Lightwave LDT-5948) was used to maintain the Nd:YAG and Cr4+:YAG crystal temperature at 25°C. The laser was air-cooled.

3. Fundamental wavelength characteristics

Using the laser structure described above, we could obtain stable, linearly polarized laser oscillation at 1064 nm. An output pulse train of 3 mJ, 365 ps pulses at 100 Hz was obtained for 100 W, 300 μs width, 100 Hz, QCW pumping. This resulted in an output peak power of 8.2 MW. The output beam was linearly polarized with a polarization ratio better than 100:1. The direction of polarization was stable and no fluctuation was observed during six months’ of usage.

The output beam diameter was 1 mm approximately and the M2 factor was measured to be 3.4. We aimed for maximum output energy, rather than an ideal Gaussian beam.

4. Second harmonic generation

The SHG experiments and results have been reported in detail in an earlier paper [12

12. R. Bhandari and T. Taira, “> 6 MW output power at 532 nm from passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/ Cr4+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express 19(20), 19135–19141 (2011). [CrossRef]

]. Here, we briefly describe them for completeness. We chose LBO crystal for SHG due to its high enough damage threshold and a relatively large angular acceptance bandwidth that permits effective SHG with multi-mode laser radiation. We performed SHG in the critical phase matching (CPM) regime, since any crystal temperature control mechanism would diminish the size-advantage offered by compact microchip lasers.

We obtained best results for a 10 mm-long LBO, by focusing the fundamental beam to a spot-diameter of 0.72 mm. We obtained 1.7 mJ pulse energy with 265 ps pulse width. This resulted in a peak power of 6.3 MW at 532 nm for an input peak power of 7.4 MW at 1064 nm. The SHG conversion efficiency was 85%. The M2 factor of the 532 nm beam was measured to be 3.

For the SHG results under various other conditions of crystal length and focusing, and for a discussion on the optimum conditions, the reader is referred to our paper on SHG [12

12. R. Bhandari and T. Taira, “> 6 MW output power at 532 nm from passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/ Cr4+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express 19(20), 19135–19141 (2011). [CrossRef]

].

5. Fourth harmonic generation

A 5x5x5 mm Type I BBO crystal cut at θ = 47.7°, φ = 0° was used for fourth harmonic generation in the CPM regime, at room temperature. The input 532 nm beam was focused with different lenses of focal length, f, as shown in Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Schematic of FHG experiment.
and Table 1

Table 1. Spot-Diameter and Confocal Length for Focusing Lenses Used in Experiment

table-icon
View This Table
. The spot-diameter was varied from 1.08 mm to 0.54 mm, with an accompanying confocal length of 128 mm to 32 mm. We would like to point out that the confocal length was much larger than the BBO crystal length, even for the shortest focal length used.

The fourth harmonic output characteristics under optimum focus conditions are shown in Fig. 4
Fig. 4 Fourth harmonic output characteristics under optimum focus conditions.
. We could obtain a stable pulse train of 562 μJ at 100 Hz with a pulse width of 260 ps. This results in a peak power of 2.2 MW. The stability of the output power, measured over 8 hrs., was within ± 2%.

6. Discussion

There are several factors that can affect fourth harmonic generation leading to a roll-over in the conversion efficiency, as seen in Fig. 3. Pump depletion in combination with diffraction could be one of them [13

13. S.-C. Sheng and A. E. Siegman, “Nonlinear-optical calculations using fast-transform methods: Second-harmonic generation with depletion and diffraction,” Phys. Rev. A 21(2), 599–606 (1980). [CrossRef]

]. Pump depletion is important under our conditions of operation, since the conversion efficiency is more than 50%. However, as the confocal length is much larger than the BBO crystal length, even at a spot-diameter of 0.54 mm, the diffraction effects are not significant. Hence, the roll-over in the conversion efficiency cannot be attributed to a combination of pump depletion and diffraction.

Another factor which could lead to the roll-over in conversion efficiency is thermal dephasing, in combination with pump depletion. However, at the energy levels achieved by us, a repetition rate of 100 Hz is low for thermal effects to become important. In order to verify this, we reduced the repetition rate, but there was no change in the roll-over.

Still another factor which could be responsible for the roll-over is two-photon absorption in the BBO crystal. The propagation of light in a medium can be described by the following differential equation:
dIdz=αIβTPAI2
(1)
where I is the light intensity,αis the linear absorption coefficient, βTPA is the two-photon absorption coefficient and z is the direction of propagation.

Several authors have studied the two-photon absorption in BBO based on the above model [14

14. M. Takahashi, A. Osada, A. Dergachev, P. F. Moulton, M. Cadatal-Raduban, T. Shimizu, and N. Sarukura, “Effects of pulse rate and temperature on nonlinear absorption of pulsed 262-nm laser light in β-BaB2O4,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 49(8), 080211 (2010). [CrossRef]

16

16. A. Dubietis, G. Tamošauskas, A. Varanavičius, and G. Valiulis, “Two-photon absorbing properties of ultraviolet phase-matchable crystals at 264 and 211 nm,” Appl. Opt. 39(15), 2437–2440 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. If the UV intensity is low, typically below 10 MW/cm2, then the contribution of two-photon absorption is negligible in BBO [14

14. M. Takahashi, A. Osada, A. Dergachev, P. F. Moulton, M. Cadatal-Raduban, T. Shimizu, and N. Sarukura, “Effects of pulse rate and temperature on nonlinear absorption of pulsed 262-nm laser light in β-BaB2O4,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 49(8), 080211 (2010). [CrossRef]

]. In our case, when the input beam is focused to a spot-diameter of 0.54 mm, the UV optical intensity reaches 1 GW/cm2, and two-photon absorption must be taken into account at these intensities. Therefore, we attribute the roll-over in the conversion efficiency to a combination of pump depletion and two-photon absorption.

In order to obtain high conversion efficiency, we had to adopt appropriate weak focusing of the input 532 nm beam, so that the effects of diffraction and two-photon absorption are minimized at the high intensities achieved by us.

7. Conclusion

We have demonstrated multi-megawatt level peak power generation at 266 nm from a microchip laser. This could be achieved due to the linearly polarized, high peak power of the fundamental beam, and by optimizing the conditions for harmonic generation. In particular, it was important to reduce the effect of two-photon absorption during fourth harmonic conversion using the BBO crystal, by suitable focusing of the input beam. Using this method, we have achieved > 2 MW, 562 μJ, 260 ps, 100 Hz pulses at 266 nm. This is a step forward in giant micro-photonics [17

17. T. Taira, “Domain-controlled laser ceramics toward giant micro-photonics [invited],” Opt. Mater. Express 1(5), 1040–1050 (2011). [CrossRef]

], and should be useful for a variety of applications.

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge the support of SENTAN, JST (Japan Science and Technical Agency) and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research B No. 21360038 for this work.

References and links

1.

J. J. Zayhowski, “Microchip lasers,” Opt. Mater. 11(2-3), 255–267 (1999). [CrossRef]

2.

N. Pavel, J. Saikawa, S. Kurimura, and T. Taira, “High average power diode end-pumped composite Nd:YAG laser passively Q-switched by Cr4+:YAG saturable absorber,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 40(Part 1, No. 3A), 1253–1259 (2001). [CrossRef]

3.

H. Sakai, H. Kan, and T. Taira, “>1 MW peak power single-mode high-brightness passively Q-switched Nd 3+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express 16(24), 19891–19899 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

S. Hayashi, T. Shibuya, H. Sakai, T. Taira, C. Otani, Y. Ogawa, and K. Kawase, “Tunability enhancement of a terahertz-wave parametric generator pumped by a microchip Nd:YAG laser,” Appl. Opt. 48(15), 2899–2902 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

T. Taira and T. Kobayashi, “Q-switching and frequency doubling of solid-state lasers by a single intracavity KTP crystal,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 30(3), 800–804 (1994). [CrossRef]

6.

T. Taira and T. Kobayashi, “Intracavity frequency doubling and Q switching in diode-laser-pumped Nd:YVO4 lasers,” Appl. Opt. 34(21), 4298–4301 (1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

J. J. Zayhowski, C. Dill III, C. Cook, and J. L. Daneu, “Mid-and high-power passively Q-switched microchip lasers,” in Proceeding of Advanced Solid-State Lasers, M. M. Fejer, H. Injeyan, and U. Keller, eds., Vol. 26 of OSA Trends in Optics and Photonic Series (Optical Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1999), pp. 178–186.

8.

M. Tsunekane, T. Inohara, A. Ando, N. Kido, K. Kanehara, and T. Taira, “High peak power, passively Q-switched microlaser for ignition of engines,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 46(2), 277–284 (2010). [CrossRef]

9.

N. Pavel, M. Tsunekane, and T. Taira, “Composite, all-ceramics, high-peak power Nd:YAG/Cr4+:YAG monolithic micro-laser with multiple-beam output for engine ignition,” Opt. Express 19(10), 9378–9384 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

10.

OSA News Release, http://www.osa.org/about_osa/newsroom/news_releases/releases/04.2011/lasersparksrevolution.aspx.

11.

H. Sakai, A. Sone, H. Kan, and T. Taira, “Polarization stabilizing for diode-pumped passively Q-switched Nd:YAG microchip lasers,” in Advanced Solid-State Photonics, Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 2006), paper MD2.

12.

R. Bhandari and T. Taira, “> 6 MW output power at 532 nm from passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/ Cr4+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express 19(20), 19135–19141 (2011). [CrossRef]

13.

S.-C. Sheng and A. E. Siegman, “Nonlinear-optical calculations using fast-transform methods: Second-harmonic generation with depletion and diffraction,” Phys. Rev. A 21(2), 599–606 (1980). [CrossRef]

14.

M. Takahashi, A. Osada, A. Dergachev, P. F. Moulton, M. Cadatal-Raduban, T. Shimizu, and N. Sarukura, “Effects of pulse rate and temperature on nonlinear absorption of pulsed 262-nm laser light in β-BaB2O4,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 49(8), 080211 (2010). [CrossRef]

15.

R. DeSalvo, A. A. Said, D. J. Hagan, E. W. Van Stryland, and M. Sheik-Bahae, “Infrared to ultraviolet measurements of two-photon absorption and n2 in wide bandgap solids,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 32(8), 1324–1333 (1996). [CrossRef]

16.

A. Dubietis, G. Tamošauskas, A. Varanavičius, and G. Valiulis, “Two-photon absorbing properties of ultraviolet phase-matchable crystals at 264 and 211 nm,” Appl. Opt. 39(15), 2437–2440 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

17.

T. Taira, “Domain-controlled laser ceramics toward giant micro-photonics [invited],” Opt. Mater. Express 1(5), 1040–1050 (2011). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(140.3610) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, ultraviolet
(190.2620) Nonlinear optics : Harmonic generation and mixing
(190.4360) Nonlinear optics : Nonlinear optics, devices

ToC Category:
Lasers, Mode Locking and Parametric Oscillation

History
Original Manuscript: August 31, 2011
Revised Manuscript: September 26, 2011
Manuscript Accepted: September 29, 2011
Published: October 25, 2011

Virtual Issues
Nonlinear Optics (2011) Optical Materials Express

Citation
Rakesh Bhandari and Takunori Taira, "Megawatt level UV output from [110] Cr4+:YAG passively Q-switched microchip laser," Opt. Express 19, 22510-22514 (2011)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-19-23-22510


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References

  1. J. J. Zayhowski, “Microchip lasers,” Opt. Mater.11(2-3), 255–267 (1999). [CrossRef]
  2. N. Pavel, J. Saikawa, S. Kurimura, and T. Taira, “High average power diode end-pumped composite Nd:YAG laser passively Q-switched by Cr4+:YAG saturable absorber,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys.40(Part 1, No. 3A), 1253–1259 (2001). [CrossRef]
  3. H. Sakai, H. Kan, and T. Taira, “>1 MW peak power single-mode high-brightness passively Q-switched Nd 3+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express16(24), 19891–19899 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. S. Hayashi, T. Shibuya, H. Sakai, T. Taira, C. Otani, Y. Ogawa, and K. Kawase, “Tunability enhancement of a terahertz-wave parametric generator pumped by a microchip Nd:YAG laser,” Appl. Opt.48(15), 2899–2902 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. T. Taira and T. Kobayashi, “Q-switching and frequency doubling of solid-state lasers by a single intracavity KTP crystal,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron.30(3), 800–804 (1994). [CrossRef]
  6. T. Taira and T. Kobayashi, “Intracavity frequency doubling and Q switching in diode-laser-pumped Nd:YVO4 lasers,” Appl. Opt.34(21), 4298–4301 (1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. J. J. Zayhowski, C. Dill III, C. Cook, and J. L. Daneu, “Mid-and high-power passively Q-switched microchip lasers,” in Proceeding of Advanced Solid-State Lasers, M. M. Fejer, H. Injeyan, and U. Keller, eds., Vol. 26 of OSA Trends in Optics and Photonic Series (Optical Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1999), pp. 178–186.
  8. M. Tsunekane, T. Inohara, A. Ando, N. Kido, K. Kanehara, and T. Taira, “High peak power, passively Q-switched microlaser for ignition of engines,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron.46(2), 277–284 (2010). [CrossRef]
  9. N. Pavel, M. Tsunekane, and T. Taira, “Composite, all-ceramics, high-peak power Nd:YAG/Cr4+:YAG monolithic micro-laser with multiple-beam output for engine ignition,” Opt. Express19(10), 9378–9384 (2011). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. OSA News Release, http://www.osa.org/about_osa/newsroom/news_releases/releases/04.2011/lasersparksrevolution.aspx .
  11. H. Sakai, A. Sone, H. Kan, and T. Taira, “Polarization stabilizing for diode-pumped passively Q-switched Nd:YAG microchip lasers,” in Advanced Solid-State Photonics, Technical Digest (Optical Society of America, 2006), paper MD2.
  12. R. Bhandari and T. Taira, “> 6 MW output power at 532 nm from passively Q-switched Nd:YAG/ Cr4+:YAG microchip laser,” Opt. Express19(20), 19135–19141 (2011). [CrossRef]
  13. S.-C. Sheng and A. E. Siegman, “Nonlinear-optical calculations using fast-transform methods: Second-harmonic generation with depletion and diffraction,” Phys. Rev. A21(2), 599–606 (1980). [CrossRef]
  14. M. Takahashi, A. Osada, A. Dergachev, P. F. Moulton, M. Cadatal-Raduban, T. Shimizu, and N. Sarukura, “Effects of pulse rate and temperature on nonlinear absorption of pulsed 262-nm laser light in β-BaB2O4,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys.49(8), 080211 (2010). [CrossRef]
  15. R. DeSalvo, A. A. Said, D. J. Hagan, E. W. Van Stryland, and M. Sheik-Bahae, “Infrared to ultraviolet measurements of two-photon absorption and n2 in wide bandgap solids,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron.32(8), 1324–1333 (1996). [CrossRef]
  16. A. Dubietis, G. Tamošauskas, A. Varanavičius, and G. Valiulis, “Two-photon absorbing properties of ultraviolet phase-matchable crystals at 264 and 211 nm,” Appl. Opt.39(15), 2437–2440 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. T. Taira, “Domain-controlled laser ceramics toward giant micro-photonics [invited],” Opt. Mater. Express1(5), 1040–1050 (2011). [CrossRef]

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