Browsing Department of Physics by browse.metadata.advisor "Bollig, Christoph"
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- ItemDiode-end-pumped solid-state lasers(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2005-03) Esser, M.J. Daniel; Bollig, Christoph; Von Bergmann, Hubertus M.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Science. Dept. of Physics. Institute for Laser Research.This thesis consists of two parts: a discussion on diode-pumped solid-state lasers and a detailed description of the development of a diode-end-pumped Nd:YLF laser. A background motivation, which places this research area in perspective, is also given. Part One introduces solid-state lasers and their physics. The focus is on the Nd3+ active ion and describes its energy level structure as a typical four-level solid-state laser. An overview of optical pump sources for solid-state lasers is given, focussing on the construction, operation and advantages of diode lasers. It is motivated that diode-end-pumping solid-state lasers produce laser systems with the highest efficiency and diffraction limited beam quality. It is, however, emphasised that power scaling of diode-end-pumped solid-state lasers is problematic due to localised heat generation in the solid-state laser medium. The adverse effect of heat generation on the laser performance is also described. In the design of diode-endpumped solid-state lasers, the management of thermal effects is suggested as the approach to scale the output power of these lasers. Part Two of the thesis describes the design and the results of a novel high-power diode-end-pumped solid-state laser developed at the Laser Research Institute. The description of the design is split into three components: the laser material, the pump source and the laser resonator. The choice of laser material is motivated in detail, focussing on Nd:YLF’s advantage of having a very weak thermal lens when operated on the σ-polarization at 1053 nm. Its disadvantage of having a low fracture limit is also highlighted, but the approach to power scale it to the multi-10-watt level, with the use of low doping concentration, a low absorption pump wavelength, and a large pump beam, is described. It is further shown that this approach led to the development of a novel laser resonator, which allows a large fundamental mode in the laser material to match the large pump beam, and it can compensate for the astigmatic thermal lens in Nd:YLF. The experimental results of the high-power diode-end-pumped Nd:YLF laser are presented, showing the influence of doping concentration, output coupling efficiency and resonator adjustments on the continuous wave and Q-switched laser performance. It is shown that the optimum laser parameters were determined, resulting in the Nd:YLF laser producing more than 26 W of continuous wave output power with a close to diffraction limited beam quality (M2 < 1.4), and more than 3 mJ of energy per pulse at a repetition rate of 6 kHz when Q-switched. It is concluded that the powerscaling concept proved to be efficient and that further power scaling would be possible with this scheme.
- ItemModelling of end-pumped Ho:YLF amplifiers(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2013-03) Collett, Oliver John Philip; Botha, Lourens R.; Esser, Daniel; Bollig, Christoph; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Science. Dept. of Physics.This work is a thesis regarding the energy scaling of end-pumped Ho:YLF amplifiers. The work includes: a brief review of laser physics and models, the development of a suitable three dimensional time resolved numerical model, a parametric study of double pass ampli ers simulated using the model, comparison between the simulation and the experimental results of a double pass ampli er system, and simulation of a high energy single pass ampli er. A three dimensional time resolved numerical model of an end-pumped ampli er was developed. A rate equation model was used to simulate the absorption and emission of light, energy transfer upconversion, and spontaneous emission within the gain medium. In the traveling wave approximation the propagation of light through the gain medium was modelled with the use of a split step method that included di raction and gain. A parametric study was performed to nd the design parameters for an end-pumped two pass ampli- er. Limited optimisation of several ampli er parameters was performed. The study focused on the optimisation of the energy per pulse through changes to the following parameters: crystal length, laser beam size, pump beam sizes, and pump wavelength. The nal design speci cations for an experimental system were for a 100 mm long 0.5 % (atm.) doped Ho:YLF gain medium, pump and seed beams with spot sizes with e ective beam sizes of 1 mm and 0.95 mm respectively and a pump wavelength of 1892 nm. The simulation predicted pulse energies above 480 mJ when seeded by a 55 mJ pulse at repetition rates of 50 Hz. The experimentally realised system with similar design parameters produced the highest reported energy, 330 mJ, from an end-pumped Ho:YLF ampli er. Comparison between the simulation and the experimental results showed signi cant deviation. The deviation was explained by the e ect of parameters not included previously in the simulation. These parameters were the power of the continuous component of the seed beam, and the energy transfer upconversion rate. Limitations and delity of the numerical model with respect to the experimental system are discussed, notably the model of the highly divergent pump beam was simplistic. Preliminary simulation results of a high energy single pass ampli er predict that energy scaling in Ho:YLF follows linearly with respect to pump power and that in the ideal case, multi-Joule operation is possible at 50 Hz with optical to optical e ciencies of 19%.
- ItemShort-pulse generation in a diode-end-pumped solid-state laser(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03) Ngcobo, Sandile; Von Bergmann, Hubertus M.; Bollig, Christoph; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Science. Dept. of Physics.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis consists of two parts; the first part is a discussion on the detailed history of the development of different types of modelocked lasers, especially the neodymium-doped lasers. The second part describes the design and development of a modelocked diode-end-pumped solid state Nd:YVO4 laser using Semiconductor Saturable Absorbers. The first part of this work will cover the history of modelocking where different types of lasers were used to generate ultrashort pulses. The discussion will mainly focus on neodymium-doped lasers such as Nd:YVO4, where we will look at the spectral properties such as energy levels, absorption and emission wavelengths of such a laser. The discussion will also look at different types of optical pump sources; such as diode lasers and flashlamps, where we will see the advantages of using diode lasers as pump sources due to their better operating conditions and efficiency. We will also look at two different types of diode pumping setup schemes, which are end-pumping and side pumping; where we will discover that diode-end-pumping is a better scheme for laser mode matching resulting in high efficiency and very good beam quality when compared to side pumping. The gain bandwidth of the laser material will also be discussed showing that a laser material with a very large gain bandwidth and broad emission bandwidth is suitable for generating ultrashort pulses, such as Ti:Sapphire crystal. The discussion will also cover ultrafast lasers that have a small amplification bandwidth suitable for diode-end-pumping and that produce high average output power. Ultrafast lasers with low amplification bandwidth such as Nd:YAG and Nd:YVO4 will be discussed showing that they can generate very short pulses with durations of down to 19 ps and 20 ps respectively and average output powers of 27 W and 20 W. The technique of creating ultrashort pulses which is called modelocking will be discussed, where passive modelocking will be shown to be more suitable for creating ultra short pulses in the femtosecond region and active modelocking in the picosecond region. The discussion will also cover saturable absorbers for passive modelocking where we will discuss the use of semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors to generate reliable self starting modelocked pulses. We will also cover the instabilities associated with using saturable absorbers where we will discuss different methods for reducing the instabilities by using gain media with the smallest saturation fluence. The second part of the work will deal with the design and development of SESAM modelocked diode-end-pumped Nd:YVO4 lasers. This part will include a discussion on the resonator design criteria’s for achieving a stable modelocked diode-end-pumped solid-state laser. The choice of using Nd:YVO4 as a gain medium will be shown to be influenced by its large cross sectional area, which is useful in increasing the gain bandwidth for possible ultrashort pulse generation. The resonator for high power continuous wave (cw) output has been designed using simulation software developed at St Andrews University. We will also discuss stability criteria such as the laser spot size inside the crystal and on the end mirror and how they can be incorporated into the resonator design software. The discussion will also include the pump setup design and the efficient cooling method of the crystal using a copper heat sink. The methodology of obtaining stable, thermal lens invariant, single transverse mode operation during power scaling of Nd:YVO4 lasers will be discussed. A lens relay approach is used to extend the cavity length so as to introduce spot size control in the designed diode-end-pumped Nd:YVO4 laser that will be shown to produce a maximum average output power of 10.5 W with an average beam quality factor M2 of 1.5. We will also discuss the incorporation of a single quantum well SESAM within the extended diode-end-pumped Nd:YVO4 laser resulting in cw-modelocked pulses at an average output power of 2.8 W with pulse repetition frequency of 179 MHz, equivalent to the cavity round trip time of 5.6 ns. The incorporation of the double quantum well SESAM will also be shown to produce stable Q-switched modelocked pulses at an average output power of 2.7 W with pulse repetition frequency of 208 KHz.
- ItemThermo-optical effects in high-power end-pumped vanadate lasers(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03) Strauss, Hencharl Johan; Von Bergmann, Hubertus; Bollig, Christoph; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Science. Dept. of Physics.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The output power of end-pumped lasers is mainly limited by thermal effects in the bulk crystal gain material. The thermal effects either fracture the crystal or cause degradation in the laser beam quality and output power. This is especially pronounced in Nd:YVO4 and Nd:GdVO4 which exhibit strong thermal lensing. These two Nd3+ vanadate materials are of great value because of their high emission cross sections which makes them excellent gain materials for mode-locked, high repetition rate Q-switched and intra-cavity frequency doubled lasers. The two Nd3+ vanadates have very similar spectral properties but many publications claim that the more expensive Nd:GdVO4 is thermo-optically superior to Nd:YVO4. However, a debate ensued after theoretical calculations as well as measurements of the thermal conductivity and thermo-optical coefficients indicated that the opposite is true. To our knowledge there has never been a direct comparison of the thermal lensing of these two materials under identical pumping and lasing conditions. In order to contribute to the debate we did such measurements for different crystals of these two materials with equal low doping using three different measurement methods. We subsequently determined that Nd:YVO4 has slightly lower thermal lensing for the stronger gain -polarisation. One of the measurement methods we used is a novel more reproducible one that we developed for this purpose. It is more reproducible because it selectively measures only the focal length of the central, relatively unaberrated part of the thermal lens. Another measurement, utilising a probe beam through the laser crystal, found that there was almost no increase in the temperature when lasing is interrupted. This indicated that there is almost no upconversion present in the crystals which is probably due to their optimally chosen low doping. A further consequence of the vanadate debate is that there is still confusion about the value of the important thermo-optical coefficient for the higher gain -polarisation (dne/dT ) of Nd:YVO4. This parameter is of great importance in thermal calculations since the strength of the thermal lens is largely dependent on it. We therefore numerically modelled the thermal lensing in our crystals using different dne/dT values and found that the value given by Sato & Taira (2007) matches our experimental results the best. Our measurements also indicated that the thermal lens dioptric power increased nonlinearly with pump power. This appeared to contradict theory of thermal lensing since we knew that there was no upconversion in the crystals (which is the standard explanation for the nonlinear increase). We proceeded to use our numerical modelling to identify the main source of the nonlinear increase as the varying spectral output of the diode pump laser. The findings in this thesis therefore extend knowledge of the thermo-optical properties of the vanadates and increase understanding of the strongly aberrated thermal lenses formed inside them. Furthermore, the findings now enable the power-scaling of end-pumped vanadates lasers to higher levels.