Improved performance of an optically pumped mid-infrared acetylene-filled hollow-core fiber laser



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Kansas State University


The focus of this research is improving the pulse output energy of a mid-IR pulsed acetylene-filled Hollow-core Optical Fiber Gas LASer (HOFGLAS) system. Pump pulses and acetylene molecules interact with each other inside hollow-core photonic crystal fiber that effectively confines light and allows for strong gain. This results in lasing at 3.11 μm and 3.17 μm lines based on population inversion of acetylene molecules, which are optically pumped at rotational-vibrational overtones near 1.5 μm using 1 ns pulse duration from an optical parametric amplifier (OPA). This acetylene laser operates with no cavity mirrors because of a high gain in a single pass configuration. There are few laser sources in the mid-IR region while there are many applications for having a laser source in this range such as remote sensing, hazardous chemical detection, and breath analysis. This adds to the importance of the acetylene-filled HOFGLAS system. Some of the applications like remote sensing require high power. So, we moved toward power scaling this laser system by optimizing the laser operation through maximizing the OPA alignment to improve its modal content using longer length of fiber to increase the interaction length and improving the beam quality of the mid-IR emissions. The highest pulse energy ever obtained in the 3 µm mid-IR region from the acetylene-filled HOFGLAS after applying the improvements is reported here (1.4 μJ). Higher mid-IR pulse energies can be achieved by improving the pulse energy achievable from the OPA pump source and working with longer pulse duration to decrease the bandwidth of the OPA. This operation demonstrates many novel properties of acetylene-filled pulsed mid-IR hollow-core fiber lasers. The excellent spatial beam quality at highest power and phenomenological scaling of saturation power and efficiency with pressure that we observe point to the promise of power scaling and motivate further development of numerical models of the laser for deeper insight into these effects. M² measurement method was used to examine spatial beam quality and it was found to be fiber-dependent. For the improved setup, M² was investigated at several input pump powers in addition to the reproducibility checks. M² of 1.14 at the maximum output power motivates for beam combining to scale to higher power. The independence of efficiency on pressure is an evidence for reaching higher mid-IR power at a pressure where saturation behavior does not exist. achieving the highest mid-IR power to date, 1.4 μJ, encourages for building higher power OPA to produce high power mid-IR emissions. Taken as a whole, this laser exhibits novel behavior that motivates both numerical/theoretical investigation and further efforts to scale to higher powers.



Gas-filled fiber lasers, Laser beam quality, M-squared measurments, Fiber loss measurments, Power scaling the laser

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Physics

Major Professor

Kristan L. Corwin