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  • Editor: Alan E. Willner
  • Vol. 37, Iss. 18 — Sep. 15, 2012
  • pp: 3888–3890
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Highly efficient dual-wavelength laser operation of cryo-cooled resonantly (in-band) pumped Ho 3 + : YVO 4 laser

G. A. Newburgh, Z. Fleischman, and M. Dubinskii  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Letters, Vol. 37, Issue 18, pp. 3888-3890 (2012)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OL.37.003888


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Abstract

We have demonstrated a CW, multiwatt, dual-wavelength cryogenically cooled, resonantly (in-band) pumped Ho 3 + : YVO 4 laser with nearly quantum-defect-limited performance. The Ho 3 + ( 2 % ) : YVO 4 gain element, which was maintained at 80 K and pumped by a Tm-fiber laser at 1966 nm, emitted at wavelengths of either 2053 or 2068 nm, or both at the same time, depending on the outcoupling loss and the pump power. We have achieved laser operation with a maximum slope efficiency of 92 % . This is, to the best of our knowledge, the highest slope efficiency ever demonstrated for any Ho 3 + -doped laser.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

2 μm lasers continue to be of interest in medicine based on absorption by water in the human body [1

1. H. W. Kang, H. Lee, J. Petersen, J. H. Teichman, and A. J. Welch, Proc. SPIE 6078, 607815 (2006). [CrossRef]

] or by CO2 in remote-sensing applications [2

2. T. M. Taczak and D. K. Killinger, Appl. Opt. 37, 8460(1998). [CrossRef]

] and are essential in the detection of wind vortices using lidar [3

3. S. M. Hannon and J. A. Thomson, J. Mod. Opt. 41, 2175 (1994). [CrossRef]

]. 2 μm lasers also have the added benefit of being eye safe [4

4. G. D. Wilkins, Wright Laboratories Tech. Rep. WL-TR-96-1017 (1996).

]. The dual-wavelength operation of the 2 μm laser, if feasible, would allow for the efficient generation of terahertz waves with multihundred-watt peak power via a difference-frequency generation process [5

5. W. Shi, Y. J. Ding, and P. G. Schunemann, Opt. Commun. 233, 183 (2004). [CrossRef]

].

Laser power scaling with good beam quality can be achieved via implementation of resonant pump/lase schemes and designing for optimal thermal management. This may include cryo-cooling, especially where efficiency is the most critical requirement [6

6. N. Ter-Gabrielyan, V. Fromzel, T. Lukasiewicz, W. Ryba-Romanowski, and M. Dubinskii, Opt. Lett. 36, 1218 (2011). [CrossRef]

]. While the Ho:YAG 2.1 μm laser meets the criteria of eye safety and emission in an atmospherically transparent window, YVO4 can be a thermally better choice of host for Ho3+ ions over YAG [7

7. A. I. Zagumennyi, P. A. Popov, F. Zerouk, Y. D. Zavartsev, S. A. Kutovoi, and I. A. Shcherbakov, Quantum Electron. 38, 227 (2008). [CrossRef]

], especially for cryo-cooled applications. This was recently demonstrated in [8

8. G. A. Newburgh and M. Dubinskii, Proc. SPIE 8039, 803905 (2011). [CrossRef]

], where a fiber-coupled InGaAsP/InP diode laser module at 1930nm was used to in-band pump a cryo-cooled Ho3+:YVO4 single crystal to produce 1.6 W of continuous wave (CW) output power at 2053 nm. Following this result, a room-temperature laser version of the Ho3+:YVO4 laser was demonstrated with resonant pumping by a much brighter Tm:YAP laser [9

9. G. Li, B.-Q. Yao, P.-B. Meng, Y.-L. Ju, and Y.-Z. Wang, Opt. Lett. 36, 2934 (2011). [CrossRef]

]. This laser emitted at 2041, 2053, or 2066 nm but was never shown to emit at multiple wavelengths simultaneously.

In this Letter, we present the experimental results of a cryo-cooled, resonantly pumped (at 1966 nm) Ho3+:YVO4 laser that emits simultaneously at 2053 and 2068 nm with a nearly quantum-defect-limited optical-to-optical efficiency of 92%. To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest demonstrated slope efficiency of any Ho3+-doped laser.

The Ho3+(2%):YVO4 gain element was cut from a single crystal grown by the Czochralski method. A section of a boule was selected based on minimal observable stress birefringence. This section was then cut and polished to form a 2.4mm×5mm×25mm laser slab with the c-axis orientation perpendicular to the 5mm×25mm face. The two 2.4mm×5mm faces were antireflection (AR) coated for the wavelength range 1900 to 2100 nm. The reflectance at 2050 nm was measured by the vendor to be 0.35% per surface. The gain element was mounted to the bottom of a standard liquid-nitrogen-cooled cryostat using highly thermally conductive indium cushioning.

The c-axis of the slab was chosen to coincide with the thin dimension of the gain medium to facilitate cooling as the thermal conductivity of YVO4 is at least 50% higher along the c axis versus the a axis (60W/m*K versus 40W/m*K at 77 K) [7

7. A. I. Zagumennyi, P. A. Popov, F. Zerouk, Y. D. Zavartsev, S. A. Kutovoi, and I. A. Shcherbakov, Quantum Electron. 38, 227 (2008). [CrossRef]

].

The simplified optical layout of the experiment is depicted in Fig. 1. The cryostat was set between a pair of cavity mirrors: a plano–concave (radius of curvature [ROC]=2.5m) dichroic M1 (AR1900, HR2100nm) and a plano–concave (ROC=0.75m) output coupler M2 (reflectivity 71% to 88% at 2050 nm). The two mirrors were set 125 mm apart and formed a stable cavity. The cryostat windows were AR coated (1900 to 2100 nm). The transmission loss per cryostat window at 2050 nm was measured to be 0.1%. Transmission losses (2 μm) of the 25 mm long Ho3+:YVO4 gain medium were measured to be 1% per pass. We estimate that the overall round-trip cavity losses were less than 3%.

Fig. 1. Simplified layout of the experimental laser setup. All the components are properly listed in the body of the paper.

In order to assess the ultimate laser potential of the Ho3+:YVO4 gain medium, the laser slab was end-pumped at 1966 nm by a Tm fiber laser collimated and focused by a 20 mm (L1) lens and a 200 mm (L2) lens, respectively. The pump beam at focus had a measured beam quality factor, M2=3.0±0.1, with a radius of wp=125μm. As the laser cavity mode radius wL=400μm and the Rayleigh length was 5 mm, we calculated that the pump beam energy was fully utilized.

The π- and σ-polarized absorption cross sections are nearly equal at λ1966nm (5*1021cm2) [8

8. G. A. Newburgh and M. Dubinskii, Proc. SPIE 8039, 803905 (2011). [CrossRef]

]. This pump wavelength was chosen to properly utilize the unpolarized pump source. The relatively low absorption cross section favors more even pump power distribution along the length of the slab.

Laser experiments were conducted using a range of output coupler reflectivities, ROC=75%, 81%, and 88%. As shown in Fig. 2, the results demonstrate high incident pump-to-laser output conversion efficiencies with all used output couplers. The most notable observation is the nearly quantum-defect-limited slope efficiency (92%) laser performance with dual-wavelength operation in a wide range of pump powers using the ROC=81% output coupler. Proper care was taken to separate the transmitted pump light from the laser output by introducing a 1° angular deviation between the pump and laser axis. It was found that under lasing conditions, nearly 99% of the pump power at 1966 nm was absorbed in the slab.

Fig. 2. Output power versus incident pump-power dependence for the cryo-cooled Ho3+(2%):YVO4 laser resonantly pumped at 1966 nm, measured with different output coupler reflectivities R: a) R=75%, (b) R=81%, and (c) R=88%.

The dual-wavelength laser operation of the cryo-cooled, resonantly pumped Ho3+:YVO4 laser was analyzed using a Yokogawa AQ6375 optical spectrum analyzer (OSA). Beginning with the case in Fig. 2(b), the laser starts lasing at 2053 nm in π polarization at low pump power (2 to 5.5 W), transitions to a dual-wavelength regime with 2053 nm (π) and 2068 nm (σ polarization) outputs in the pump power range 5.5 to 12 W, and ends with pure 2068 nm emission beyond 12 W. The polarization of the 2053 and 2068 nm wavelengths was determined by a diffraction grating and a polymer thin-film polarizer. No discernible difference in slope efficiency was observed in transition from a mixed 2053/2068nm laser output to one of pure 2068 nm emission. We measured the output beam quality at full power (>8W) and determined that the beam quality factor, M2, was 5.5 along both a and c axes. No astigmatism was observed.

In contrast, in the case in Fig. 2(a), ROC=75%, the laser starts and maintains lasing at 2053 nm in the full range of available pump power. For the case in Fig. 2(c), ROC=88%, the laser emits at 2053 nm only at threshold and quickly transitions to lasing at 2068 nm only.

An OSA trace of the CW dual-wavelength lasing is presented in Fig. 3. The trace was obtained using the outcoupler with 81% reflectivity and OSA resolution of 0.05 nm. The 2053 nm laser line was found to be significantly spectrally wider than the 2068 nm laser line, usually 0.17nm versus 0.05nm (resolution-limited), respectively, for the entire range of pump power. The OSA trace shown in Fig. 3 is stable in time, but the trace is the result of signal averaging over the period of time of 3sec. By simultaneous time-resolved power measurement at each wavelength, we observed that the power at each of the two wavelengths undergoes rapid fluctuations (on a millisecond time scale) in such a manner that both powers nearly anticorrelate in time.

Fig. 3. Laser output spectrum of the resonantly pumped, cryo-cooled Ho3+(2%):YVO4 laser at the onset of dual-wavelength lasing. Presented spectral distribution corresponds to output coupler reflectivity of 81% [Fig. 2(b)] and incident pump power 7W.

While spectroscopy at this point does not allow us to predict exactly when the transition of lasing from 2053 to 2068 nm occurs, we can anticipate this laser behavior. As observed in our experiments, a strong correlation exists between the gain-medium temperature and output-coupler transmission value at the point when the output power at 2053 nm equals that at 2068 nm. For equality to hold, the laser gain at 2053 nm (σg/2053) must equal the laser gain at 2068 nm (σg/2068):
σg/2053=βσe/2053(1β)σa/2053=σg/2068=βσe/2068(1β)σa/2068,
(1)
where β, is the inversion in the gain medium, and σa/20530, σa/2068=0 [9

9. G. Li, B.-Q. Yao, P.-B. Meng, Y.-L. Ju, and Y.-Z. Wang, Opt. Lett. 36, 2934 (2011). [CrossRef]

] are the ground-state absorption cross sections at 2053 and 2068 nm, respectively. The stimulated emission cross sections at 2053 and 2068 nm are designated by σe/2053 and σe/2068. Under lasing conditions, the net gain of the medium at 2068 nm must also satisfy the following condition:
2lN0σg/2068=ln(1/ROC)+2L,
(2)
where l is the length of the gain medium, L is the single-pass passive loss of the laser cavity, and N0 is the gain medium ion number density. This allows us to write the relation,
σa/2053(ROC)=(ln(1/ROC)+2L)(σe/2068σe/2053)ln(1/ROC)+2(LlN0σe/2068).
(3)
Equation (3) leads us to expect that as ROC decreases, for σe/2068<σa/2053 wavelength transition occurs for larger values of σa/2053, that is, higher gain temperatures associated with harder optical pumping.

In conclusion, we have demonstrated the CW dual-wavelength operation of a cryogenically cooled, resonantly (in-band) pumped Ho3+:YVO4 laser with nearly quantum-defect-limited performance. The Ho3+(2%):YVO4 gain element, maintained at approximately 80 K and pumped by a Tm fiber laser at 1966 nm, emitted at the wavelengths of either 2053 or 2068 nm, or both simultaneously, as a function of the outcoupler transmittance and the incident pump power. It was observed that the onset of 2068 nm lasing is correlated with the heating of the gain medium and the outcoupler transmission value. We observed Ho3+:YVO4 laser operation at a mixture of 2053 and 2068 nm with a nearly quantum-defect-limited slope efficiency of 92%, which is, to the best of our knowledge, the highest slope efficiency demonstrated for any Ho3+-doped laser.

This work has been partially supported by the High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office.

References

1.

H. W. Kang, H. Lee, J. Petersen, J. H. Teichman, and A. J. Welch, Proc. SPIE 6078, 607815 (2006). [CrossRef]

2.

T. M. Taczak and D. K. Killinger, Appl. Opt. 37, 8460(1998). [CrossRef]

3.

S. M. Hannon and J. A. Thomson, J. Mod. Opt. 41, 2175 (1994). [CrossRef]

4.

G. D. Wilkins, Wright Laboratories Tech. Rep. WL-TR-96-1017 (1996).

5.

W. Shi, Y. J. Ding, and P. G. Schunemann, Opt. Commun. 233, 183 (2004). [CrossRef]

6.

N. Ter-Gabrielyan, V. Fromzel, T. Lukasiewicz, W. Ryba-Romanowski, and M. Dubinskii, Opt. Lett. 36, 1218 (2011). [CrossRef]

7.

A. I. Zagumennyi, P. A. Popov, F. Zerouk, Y. D. Zavartsev, S. A. Kutovoi, and I. A. Shcherbakov, Quantum Electron. 38, 227 (2008). [CrossRef]

8.

G. A. Newburgh and M. Dubinskii, Proc. SPIE 8039, 803905 (2011). [CrossRef]

9.

G. Li, B.-Q. Yao, P.-B. Meng, Y.-L. Ju, and Y.-Z. Wang, Opt. Lett. 36, 2934 (2011). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(140.3460) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers
(140.3580) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, solid-state
(140.5680) Lasers and laser optics : Rare earth and transition metal solid-state lasers

ToC Category:
Lasers and Laser Optics

History
Original Manuscript: July 2, 2012
Revised Manuscript: August 9, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: August 13, 2012
Published: September 14, 2012

Citation
G. A. Newburgh, Z. Fleischman, and M. Dubinskii, "Highly efficient dual-wavelength laser operation of cryo-cooled resonantly (in-band) pumped Ho3+:YVO4 laser," Opt. Lett. 37, 3888-3890 (2012)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ol/abstract.cfm?URI=ol-37-18-3888


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References

  1. H. W. Kang, H. Lee, J. Petersen, J. H. Teichman, and A. J. Welch, Proc. SPIE 6078, 607815 (2006). [CrossRef]
  2. T. M. Taczak and D. K. Killinger, Appl. Opt. 37, 8460(1998). [CrossRef]
  3. S. M. Hannon and J. A. Thomson, J. Mod. Opt. 41, 2175 (1994). [CrossRef]
  4. G. D. Wilkins, Wright Laboratories Tech. Rep. WL-TR-96-1017 (1996).
  5. W. Shi, Y. J. Ding, and P. G. Schunemann, Opt. Commun. 233, 183 (2004). [CrossRef]
  6. N. Ter-Gabrielyan, V. Fromzel, T. Lukasiewicz, W. Ryba-Romanowski, and M. Dubinskii, Opt. Lett. 36, 1218 (2011). [CrossRef]
  7. A. I. Zagumennyi, P. A. Popov, F. Zerouk, Y. D. Zavartsev, S. A. Kutovoi, and I. A. Shcherbakov, Quantum Electron. 38, 227 (2008). [CrossRef]
  8. G. A. Newburgh and M. Dubinskii, Proc. SPIE 8039, 803905 (2011). [CrossRef]
  9. G. Li, B.-Q. Yao, P.-B. Meng, Y.-L. Ju, and Y.-Z. Wang, Opt. Lett. 36, 2934 (2011). [CrossRef]

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