Compact near-infrared 3-dimensional channel waveguide lasers
This thesis presents the development of ultrafast near-infrared (NIR) waveguide laser sources, through the fabrication of waveguides in Yb-doped bismuthate glass using ultrafast laser inscription (ULI). An integrated linear cavity waveguide laser is demonstrated in the glass with output powers of 163 mW and a slope efficiency of 79%. The laser performance is comparable to bulk systems while providing additional advantages in terms of low threshold ~35 mW and system compactness. The simultaneous achievement of low propagation losses and preservation of the fluorescence properties of Yb ions after the ULI process is key to the outstanding laser performance. Based on the current interest in ultrafast laser development using graphene as a saturable absorber (SA), a systematic study of nonlinear absorption in graphene is presented. The nonlinear optical characterisation of graphene at the wavelengths of 1 μm and 2 μm contributes to the experimental evidence for the wavelength independent absorption saturation in the material. Ultrashort pulse generation from the Yb-doped bismuthate waveguide laser is investigated using SAs based on semiconductor technology and carbon nanostructures. The quasi-monolithic waveguide laser, employing a graphene SA generated ~485 mW output power with a slope efficiency of 49%. The laser generated ~1 ps pulses in a Q-switched mode-locked regime, with the mode-locked pulses measuring a high repetition rate of 1.5 GHz. Ultrafast laser development is also investigated based on a novel evanescent-wave mode-locker device, fabricated by ULI. The device consists of an orthogonal waveguide with the right-angle positioned along its angled facet. The substrate is converted into a mode-locker by depositing carbon nanotube SA at the angled facet. Mode-locked operation is demonstrated by incorporating the substrate in an Er-doped ring laser, generating ~800 fs pulses at 26 MHz. Some preliminary work is done to replicate the device design in an active gain medium, namely, Yb-doped bismuthate glass, for the development of compact laser sources.