Applied Physics B

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 325-333

First online:

Comparison of Tm : ZBLAN and Tm : silica fiber lasers; Spectroscopy and tunable pulsed laser operation around 1.9 μm

  • B.M. WalshAffiliated withNASA Langley Research Center Email author 
  • , N.P. Barnes Affiliated withNASA Langley Research Center

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Tm-doped ZBLAN and Tm-doped silica glass are compared spectroscopically and the fiber lasing of the Tm 3 F 4 →3 H 6 transition around 1.9 μm in ZBLAN and silica fibers is compared. The spectroscopy of these materials indicates that Tm:ZBLAN possesses advantages over Tm:silica glass due to the lower phonon energies. The phonon energy in these glass hosts influences both the pump manifold lifetime, the Tm 3 H 4, and the upper laser manifold lifetime, the Tm 3 F 4. The maximum phonon energy in Tm:ZBLAN, ∼500 cm-1 , compared to Tm:silica, ∼1100 cm-1, leads to better Tm–Tm self quenching towards populating the Tm 3 F 4, as well as better Tm 3 F 43 H 6 quantum efficiency. A spectroscopic analysis using the Judd–Ofelt theory and measured lifetimes are used to assess the merits of Tm:ZBLAN over Tm:silica as a fiber laser material. Diode-pumped fiber lasing experiments show that Tm:ZBLAN possesses advantages over Tm:silica that are believed to be due to a lower phonon energy. Data is presented for launched pump energy versus laser energy, fiber length versus slope efficiency, and output mirror reflectivity versus slope efficiency. Tm:ZBLAN is demonstrated to possess higher slope efficiencies and lower thresholds, than Tm:silicate. A grating tuned Tm:ZBLAN laser is also demonstrated for tunable operation between 1.893 μm and 1.955 μm.