Mid-infrared supercontinuum generation in fluoride fiber amplifiers: current status and future perspectives
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The quest for a compact and efficient broadband laser source able to probe the numerous fundamental molecular absorption lines in the mid-infrared (3–8 µm) for various applications has been going on for more than a decade. While robust commercial fiber-based supercontinuum (SC) systems have started to appear on the market, they still exhibit poor energy conversion into the mid-infrared (typically under 30%) and are generally not producing wavelengths exceeding 4.7 µm. Here, we present an overview of the results obtained from a novel approach to SC generation based on spectral broadening inside of an erbium-doped fluoride fiber amplifier seeded directly at 2.8 µm, allowing mid-infrared conversion efficiencies reaching up to 95% and spectral coverage approaching the transparency limit of ZrF4 (4.2 µm) and InF3 (5.5 µm) fibers. The general concept of the approach and the physical mechanisms involved are presented alongside the various configurations of the system to adjust the output characteristics in terms of spectral coverage and output power for different applications.
The authors thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) (Grant no. 5180), and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) (Grant no. 144616). We also thank Darren Kraemer from Light Matter Interaction inc. for helpful discussions and Le Verre Fluoré for providing the InF3 fibers. Funding was provided by Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Grant no. IRCPJ469414-13).
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