, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 145-156
Date: 19 Dec 2003

A broadband ytterbium-doped tunable fiber laser for 3He optical pumping at 1083 nm

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Large amounts of hyperpolarized 3He gas with high nuclear polarization rates are required for use in neutron spin filters or nuclear magnetic resonance imaging of human lung. Very high efficiency can be obtained by metastability exchange optical pumping using multimode lasers to excite the [ 2 ]3S-[ 2 ]3P transition at 1083 nm. Broadband ytterbium-doped tunable fiber lasers have been designed for that particular application. Different options for the architecture of the fiber oscillator are presented and compared. Emphasis is given to a linear cavity configuration that includes a high reflectivity fiber mirror and a low reflectivity tunable fiber Bragg grating. Optical measurements are performed to finely characterize the spectral behavior of the lasers. Atomic response is also quantitatively probed to assess the optimal design of the oscillator for optical pumping. Multimode operation matching the 2 GHz Doppler-broadened helium resonance line and tunability over more than 200 GHz are demonstrated. Boosting the output of this fiber laser with a Yb-doped fiber power amplifier, all-fiber devices are built to provide robust, high-power turnkey sources at 1083 nm for improved production of laser polarized 3He.


42.60.-v; 42.55.Wd; 32.80.Bx