Novel Cavities in Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers for Emission In Broad Spectral Region by Means Of Nonlinear Frequency Conversion
AuthorLukowski, Michal Lukasz
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractOptically pumped semiconductor vertical external cavity surface emitting lasers (VECSEL) were first demonstrated in the mid 1990's. Due to the unique design properties of extended cavity lasers VECSELs have been able to provide tunable, high-output powers while maintaining excellent beam quality. These features offer a wide range of possible applications in areas such as medicine, spectroscopy, defense, imaging, communications and entertainment. Nowadays, newly developed VECSELs, cover the spectral regions from red (600 nm) to around 5 µm. By taking the advantage of the open cavity design, the emission can be further expanded to UV or THz regions by the means of intracavity nonlinear frequency generation. The objective of this dissertation is to investigate and extend the capabilities of high-power VECSELs by utilizing novel nonlinear conversion techniques. Optically pumped VECSELs based on GaAs semiconductor heterostructures have been demonstrated to provide exceptionally high output powers covering the 900 to 1200 nm spectral region with diffraction limited beam quality. The free space cavity design allows for access to the high intracavity circulating powers where high efficiency nonlinear frequency conversions and wavelength tuning can be obtained. As an introduction, this dissertation consists of a brief history of the development of VECSELs as well as wafer design, chip fabrication and resonator cavity design for optimal frequency conversion. Specifically, the different types of laser cavities such as: linear cavity, V-shaped cavity and patented T-shaped cavity are described, since their optimization is crucial for transverse mode quality, stability, tunability and efficient frequency conversion. All types of nonlinear conversions such as second harmonic, sum frequency and difference frequency generation are discussed in extensive detail. The theoretical simulation and the development of the high-power, tunable blue and green VECSEL by the means of type I second harmonic generation in a V- cavity is presented. Tens of watts of output power for both blue and green wavelengths prove the viability for VECSELs to replace the other types of lasers currently used for applications in laser light shows, for Ti:Sapphire pumping, and for medical applications such as laser skin resurfacing. The novel, recently patented, two-chip T-cavity configuration allowing for spatial overlap of two, separate VECSEL cavities is described in detail. This type of setup is further used to demonstrate type II sum frequency generation to green with multi-watt output, and the full potential of the T-cavity is utilized by achieving type II difference frequency generation to the mid-IR spectral region. The tunable output around 5.4 µm with over 10 mW power is showcased. In the same manner the first attempts to generate THz radiation are discussed. Finally, a slightly modified T-cavity VECSEL is used to reach the UV spectral regions thanks to type I fourth harmonic generation. Over 100 mW at around 265 nm is obtained in a setup which utilizes no stabilization techniques. The dissertation demonstrates the flexibility of the VECSEL in achieving broad spectral coverage and thus its potential for a wide range of applications.
Degree ProgramGraduate College