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Opt Express. 2015 Apr 6;23(7):8532-44. doi: 10.1364/OE.23.008532.

All-optical Q-switching limiter for high-power gigahertz modelocked diode-pumped solid-state lasers.


Passively modelocked diode-pumped solid-state lasers (DPSSLs) with pulse repetition rates in the gigahertz regime suffer from an increased tendency for Q-switching instabilities. Low saturation fluence intracavity saturable absorbers - such as the semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors (SESAMs) - can solve this problem up to a certain average output power limited by the onset of SESAM damage. Here we present a passive stabilization mechanism, an all-optical Q-switching limiter, to reduce the impact of Q-switching instabilities and increase the potential output power of SESAM modelocked lasers in the gigahertz regime. With a proper cavity design a Kerr lens induced negative saturable absorber clamps the maximum fluence on the SESAM and therefore limits the onset of Q-switching instabilities. No critical cavity alignment is required because this Q-switching limiter acts well within the cavity stability regime. Using a proper cavity design, a high-power diode-pumped Yb:CALGO solid-state laser generated sub-100 fs pulses with an average output power of 4.1 W at a pulse repetition rate of 5 GHz. With a pulse duration of 96 fs we can achieve a peak power as high as 7.5 kW directly from the SESAM modelocked laser oscillator without any further external pulse amplification and/or pulse compression. We present a quantitative analysis of this Kerr lens induced Q-switching limiter and its impact on modelocked operation. Our work provides a route to compact high-power multi-gigahertz frequency combs based on SESAM modelocked diode-pumped solid-state lasers without any additional external amplification or pulse compression.


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