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Semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors (SESAM's) for femtosecond to nanosecond pulse generation in solid-state lasers

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10 Author(s)
Keller, U. ; Inst. of Quantum Electron., Swiss Federal Inst. of Technol., Zurich, Switzerland ; Weingarten, K.J. ; Kartner, F.X. ; Kopf, D.
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Intracavity semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors (SESAM's) offer unique and exciting possibilities for passively pulsed solid-state laser systems, extending from Q-switched pulses in the nanosecond and picosecond regime to mode-locked pulses from 10's of picoseconds to sub-10 fs. This paper reviews the design requirements of SESAM's for stable pulse generation in both the mode-locked and Q-switched regime. The combination of device structure and material parameters for SESAM's provide sufficient design freedom to choose key parameters such as recovery time, saturation intensity, and saturation fluence, in a compact structure with low insertion loss. We have been able to demonstrate, for example, passive modelocking (with no Q-switching) using an intracavity saturable absorber in solid-state lasers with long upper state lifetimes (e.g., 1-μm neodymium transitions), Kerr lens modelocking assisted with pulsewidths as short as 6.5 fs from a Ti:sapphire laser-the shortest pulses ever produced directly out of a laser without any external pulse compression, and passive Q-switching with pulses as short as 56 ps-the shortest pulses ever produced directly from a Q-switched solid-state laser. Diode-pumping of such lasers is leading to practical, real-world ultrafast sources, and we will review results on diode-pumped Cr:LiSAF, Nd:glass, Yb:YAG, Nd:YAG, Nd:YLF, Nd:LSB, and Nd:YVO4

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Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:2 ,  Issue: 3 )