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Optica Publishing Group
  • CLEO/Europe and IQEC 2007 Conference Digest
  • (Optica Publishing Group, 2007),
  • paper CA6_6

Power scaling in resonantly diode-pumped 1.6-μm Er-doped lasers

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The design of high power eye-safe lasers based on Er3+ involves choosing the optimum host, pump source, wavelength, geometry, Er concentration, length of the gain medium, etc. We are focusing on hosts such as YAG and Y2O3, and resonant pumping of the 4I13/2 level with laser diode bars and stacks. Although the most impressive slope efficiencies so far have been obtained with narrow-line Er fiber laser pumping [1], direct resonant diode-pumping offers many important practical advantages and higher overall efficiency [2]. The choice of doping level and rod length is influenced by several factors. The relatively low absorption cross section of Er3+ in the 1.5 μm region favors higher doping and longer rods. Cooperative upconversion, which reduces the population of the 4I13/2 upper laser level, favors lower doping. Longitudinal pumping with extended sources, e.g. diode laser bars that are difficult to collimate, favors shorter rods. One approach to the problem is to couple the bar to the rod with a lens duct, and confine the pump light within the rod using total internal reflection. Another approach is to use micro-optics to collimate the emission from the bar. The use of shorter rods and higher doping can benefit either approach, but reintroduces the problem of upconversion. It is also important to consider the effect of temperature on laser performance, due to the striking results obtained recently for cryogenic operation of diode-pumped Yb:YAG lasers. Due to the similar quasi-four-level structures of Er3+ and Yb3+, similar advantages occur upon cooling Er-doped lasers. But gain medium cooling is even more advantageous for Er3+ ion, which at room temperature is more nearly three-level than Yb3+, due to its smaller ground state splitting. This paper describes a quantitative study of these tradeoffs over a wide temperature range, based on a laser model anchored to experimental laser results.

© 2007 IEEE

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