Back-side-coated chirped mirrors with ultra-smooth broadband dispersion characteristics
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We demonstrate a new technique for the design of chirped mirrors with extremely smooth dispersion characteristics over an extended ultra-broadband wavelength range. Our approach suppresses spectral dispersion oscillations, which can lead to unwanted strong spectral modulations and limit the bandwidth of mode-locked laser pulses. Dispersion oscillations are significantly reduced by coating the chirped mirror structure on the back side of a substrate, providing ideal impedance matching between coating and ambient medium. An anti-reflection coating may be added on the front side of the substrate, geometrically separated from the chirped mirror. The chirped mirror structure and the anti-reflection coating are non-interfering and can be independently designed and optimized. The separation of both coating sections provides a much better solution for the impedance-matching problems than previous approaches to chirped mirror design. We show by a theoretical analysis and numerical simulations that minimum dispersion oscillations are achieved if the index of the substrate is identical to the index of one of the coating materials and if double-chirping is used for the chirped mirror structure. Based on this analysis, we design a mirror that supports a bandwidth of 220 THz with group delay dispersion oscillations of about 2 fs2 (rms), an order-of magnitude improvement compared to previous designs of similar bandwidth. In a first experimental demonstration of back-side-coated (BASIC) mirrors, we achieve nearly transform-limited and virtually unchirped pulses of 5.8 fs duration from a Kerr-lens mode-locked Ti:sapphire laser. BASIC mirrors are particularly suited for higher-order dispersion compensation schemes. They support the extremely broad spectra of few-cycle pulses and promise to provide clean pulse shapes in this regime.
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