Diode-pumped ultra-short-pulse solid-state lasers
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Many materials are good candidates for diode-pumped ultra-short-pulse lasers: several transition-metal-ion-doped crystals can or could support extremely short fs pulses. This goal, so far, has only been reached by Cr3+:LiSAF, but there are good chances for other crystals like Cr4+:YAG having its bandwidth within the third communication window, and the high-yield Cr2+:ZnSe with its impressive bandwidth in the near IR. Rare-earth-ion-doped media deliver only sub-ps pulses but allow unprecedented and scalable high average powers, like a SESAM mode-locked Yb:YAG thin-disk laser described recently. In all ranges of pulse durations there are fascinating applications ready for widespread employment as soon as compact, reliable and moderately priced ultra-short-pulse systems will be available for the non-laser-skilled user. The highest impact in the near future is attributed to microstructuring of materials and processing of biological samples, including dental enamel, by ps and sub-ps pulses, and optical coherence tomography needing pulses in the 10-fs regime at very modest average powers.
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