Generation and application of high power femtosecond pulses in the vibrational fingerprint region
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We present a novel high power femtosecond infrared laser source, based on a three-stage chirped-pulse amplification scheme. Owing to the high power output of the Ti:sapphire amplifiers, it becomes routinely possible to produce femtosecond infrared laser pulses in the wavelength region of 2.6–20 μm with minimum pulse energies of 15 μJ, to our knowledge roughly an improvement of an order of magnitude. With such pulses we have performed femtosecond second-order nonlinear optical surface spectroscopy in the fingerprint region. We have probed the skeletal modes of the first few monolayers of a polymer/air interface in a femtosecond vibrational sum frequency generation experiment. This development opens up new possibilities to investigate surface structures and dynamics of, e.g., organo-metallic compounds, proteins, and peptides.