Quarterman, Adrian H., Wilcox, Keith G., Apostolopoulos, Vasilis, Mihoubi, Zakaria, Elsmere, Stephen P., Farrer, Ian, Ritchie, David A. and Tropper, Anne
A passively mode-locked external-cavity semiconductor laser emitting 60-fs pulses
Nature Photonics, 3, (10), . (doi:10.1038/NPHOTON.2009.216).
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Optical pulses of duration a few tens of femtoseconds drive applications from attoscience to metrology, yet femtosecond lasers remain bulky and expensive items based on vibronic crystal or ytterbium-doped silica fibre gain media. Although in principle band-gap-engineered quantum-confined semiconductor materials have significant advantages of gain bandwidth, and spectral versatility, semiconductor lasers have not to date been capable of generating comparably short pulses. Here we describe an optically-pumped InGaAs/GaAs quantum well (QW) laser that is passively mode-locked using an intracavity semiconductor saturable absorber mirror (SESAM) and emits 60-fs pulses at 1037 nm with optical spectrum bandwidth of 20 nm full-width half-maximum (FWHM). In this laser, fast optical Stark self-absorption modulation and strong gain saturation combine to shape pulses on the timescale of carrier-carrier scattering. The cavity contains a stable group of circulating pulses, regularly spaced at an interval fixed by the time over which the saturated gain recovers.
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