Efficient, high-power operation of CW Yb:YAG and Q-switched Nd:YAG planar waveguide lasers
Thomson, Ian James
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The planar waveguide gain medium o ers a good approach to creating a high- power lasers. Excellent thermal properties allow for lasers with good beam-quality and high-e ciency. A Neodymium doped YAG planar waveguide laser was actively Q-switched using a hybrid unstable resonator and acousto-optic modulator. A Yt- terbium doped YAG planar waveguide laser was side-pumped using two laser diode stacks with a total of 800 W incident pump power. The Nd:YAG planar waveguide laser has a core 200 um thick and was face pumped with ten laser diode bars. Q-switching was achieved through the use of a new hybrid unstable resonator con guration providing high-speed modulation of the laser cavity. The laser produced 100 W of average power with a pulse repetition rate of 100 kHz, giving 1 mJ pulses with 50 ns duration. Shorter 15 ns pulses were achieved with 4.5 mJ pulse energy at lower pulse repetition rates. The Yb:YAG planar waveguide laser has a 150 um core thickness, side pumped by two 430 W, six-bar diode laser stacks. Each diode stack has a custom phase- plate, correcting for collimation errors and lens aberrations. These gave a line focus matching the dimensions of the waveguide core with an incident intensity on each side of approximately 22 kWcm-2. Ray tracing of spontaneous emission within the waveguide core shows side facet angles of 7 and 20 were required to minimise ASE and parasitic oscillations within the waveguide core. A technique to image the uorescence from the Yb:YAG waveguide core has been developed. This technique allows for easy alignment of the pump lasers to the waveg- uide core and measurement of the pump intensity pro le throughout the planar waveg- uide. This technique showed single-sided pumping to follow Beer's law, and with double-sided pumping considerably improved the pump uniformity. A diode laser probe was used to measure the gain present within the waveguide. The small signal gain coe cient was shown to be 1 cm-1 with a uniform pro le across the width of the waveguide when pumped to saturation. This highlights the potential of operating the planar waveguide laser as an e cient ampli er. High-power high-e ciency operation of the Yb:YAG planar waveguide laser was achieved through the use of a hybrid stable waveguide resonator. Output power of 400 W was extracted in a multi-mode beam with a slope e ciency of 75%. This result represents the highest output power from a diode-pumped solid-state planar waveguide laser to date.