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Opt Express. 2011 Oct 10;19(21):20930-9. doi: 10.1364/OE.19.020930.

Extended coherence length Fourier domain mode locked lasers at 1310 nm.

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LightLab Imaging Inc., a St. Jude Medical subsidiary, 1 Technology Park Drive, Westford, MA 01886, USA.


Fourier domain mode locked (FDML) lasers are excellent tunable laser sources for frequency domain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT) systems due to their combination of high sweep rates, large tuning ranges, and high output powers. However, conventional FDML lasers provide coherence lengths of only 4-10 mm, limiting their use in demanding applications such as intravascular OCT where coherence lengths of >20 mm are required for optimal imaging of large blood vessels. Furthermore, like most swept lasers, conventional FDML lasers produce only one useable sweep direction per tunable filter drive cycle, halving the effective sweep rate of the laser compared to the filter drive frequency. Here, we demonstrate a new class of FDML laser incorporating broadband dispersion compensation near 1310 nm. Elimination of chromatic dispersion in the FDML cavity results in the generation of forward (short to long wavelength) and backward (long to short wavelength) sweeps with substantially identical properties and coherence lengths of >21 mm. This advance enables long-range, high-speed FD-OCT imaging without the need for optical buffering stages, significantly reducing laser cost and complexity.

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