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Nat Nanotechnol. 2008 Dec;3(12):738-42. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2008.312. Epub 2008 Nov 2.

Wideband-tuneable, nanotube mode-locked, fibre laser.

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  • 1Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, 9 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 0FA, UK.


Ultrashort-pulse lasers with spectral tuning capability have widespread applications in fields such as spectroscopy, biomedical research and telecommunications. Mode-locked fibre lasers are convenient and powerful sources of ultrashort pulses, and the inclusion of a broadband saturable absorber as a passive optical switch inside the laser cavity may offer tuneability over a range of wavelengths. Semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors are widely used in fibre lasers, but their operating range is typically limited to a few tens of nanometres, and their fabrication can be challenging in the 1.3-1.5 microm wavelength region used for optical communications. Single-walled carbon nanotubes are excellent saturable absorbers because of their subpicosecond recovery time, low saturation intensity, polarization insensitivity, and mechanical and environmental robustness. Here, we engineer a nanotube-polycarbonate film with a wide bandwidth (>300 nm) around 1.55 microm, and then use it to demonstrate a 2.4 ps Er(3+)-doped fibre laser that is tuneable from 1,518 to 1,558 nm. In principle, different diameters and chiralities of nanotubes could be combined to enable compact, mode-locked fibre lasers that are tuneable over a much broader range of wavelengths than other systems.

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