Our group’s research is focused on two main themes which are inextricably connected. Our primary objective is to investigate, using numerical simulations, the physics of the interplay between turbulence and internal gravity waves in both mid-water and near the bottom/top and lateral boundaries of the ocean and lakes. read more…
Multimode Mamyshev oscillator
Regular mode-locked lasers make short light pulses by synchronization or “locking” of many longitudinal cavity modes. It was recently shown that the transverse modes of a cavity can also be synchronized in a similar— but more general— form of mode-locking known as “spatiotemporal mode-locking” (STML). These lasers make ultrafast pulses that have spatial structure due to the many transverse modes involved. Understanding of this phenomenally complex phenomenon is limited: STML has so far been demonstrated a handful of times in relatively similar types of multimode fiber lasers. In this project, we study STML in a very different type of cavity architecture— the Mamyshev oscillator. The laser supports a vast array of mode-locked states. Learning to control these states in a meaningful way is a long-term goal which might enable gigawatt-class fiber lasers, or fiber lasers that generate purposefully-structured light for applications.
Normal-dispersion fiber optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification
An ongoing limitation of fiber lasers is their lack of broad wavelength tunability. Here, we address this problem using fiber optical parametric chirped-pulse amplification (FOPCPA), which combines the energy capacity of chirped pulse amplification with the spectral flexibility of optical parametric amplification and the practical benefits of fiber. Notably, this is the first FOPCPA to be pumped in the normally-dispersive regime, which permits phase-matching far from the pump wavelength.
The system operates by coupling a stretched, broadband pump pulse and a continuous-wave signal into a photonic crystal fiber. At each point in time, the monochromatic signal interacts via four-wave-mixing with a different wavelength of the chirped pump, resulting in an idler that is chirped in exactly the same manner as the pump. Scalability follows from the timescale-invariance of this process: stretching the pump at constant peak power likewise stretches the idler at constant peak power, increasing the energy without affecting the dechirped duration. By exploiting this property, we are able to convert pulses from the Yb-band to the important bio-imaging window near 1300 nm, with energies of >100 nJ and femtosecond-scale durations.
Self-seeded, multi-megawatt, Mamyshev oscillator
As was shown by Liu et al., the pulses from a Mamyshev oscillator can be enhanced by increasing the spectral separation between the two bandpass filters. However, this comes at a cost: the same mechanism that strongly stabilizes the pulse against continuous-wave breakthrough also suppresses the weak electric field fluctuations that are needed to initiate pulse formation. Thus, a Mamyshev oscillator may be constructed that supports very high-energy pulses, but which can be mode-locked only with the aid of an external seed source. In this paper, we address this problem by showing how a simple auxiliary cavity–a “starting arm”–may be embedded into a Mamyshev oscillator, enabling the oscillator to seed itself at the flip of a mirror. A video of this process can be viewed here. We have furthermore scaled part of the cavity to fiber with a 10-micron core diameter. The result is a fiber oscillator with self-starting-like behavior that can deliver 190-nJ, 35-fs pulses without any external amplification, for an unprecedented peak power of 3 MW after dechirping.
Spatiotemporal mode-locking in multimode fiber lasers
Unlike a conventional single-mode, ‘one-dimensional’ laser, the frequencies of a multimode, multidimensional laser are ordinarily very complicated (figure below, top left, where different colors correspond to different spatial modes). However, we showed that, for a properly designed laser (bottom), the laser’s frequencies would adjust automatically into an organized, synchronized pattern (figure top right), corresponding to the emission of a 3D, multimode laser pulse at regular intervals. Pulses from this laser might eventually allow very sophisticated light-matter interactions, especially with complex molecules (different modes of the laser may interact with different ‘modes’, specific transitions, of molecules or other matter). We have some moderately crazy ideas to realize PW or even EW (exawatt) lasers with this approach.
Megawatt peak power from a Mamyshev oscillator
Historically, it has been really tough to make an ultrafast fiber laser that is both environmentally stable and that has good performance (i.e., it has similar performance as a Ti:sapphire oscillator). Recently, several groups have realized that a pair of spectral filters, each offset from the center of the laser gain spectrum, can be used as an effective saturable absorber. An intense pulse will experience nonlinear spectral broadening within fiber in between the filters, and can oscillate stably in a ring cavity formed in this way – a laser we call a ‘Mamyshev oscillator’ (see figure). Low-intensity pulses, or continuous-wave lasing, are meanwhile strongly attenuated. This mechanism, first proposed by Pavel Mamyshev for signal regeneration in telecommunications, is fully compatible with environmentally-stable laser designs. In this paper, we show that the Mamyshev oscillator can, when combined with the self-similar evolution of parabolic pulses, actually support extraordinary performance. Our initial experiments already show 10 times higher peak power than the previous state-of-the-art, and we are optimistic about further improvements.
High-power femtosecond pulses without a modelocked laser
Modelocked lasers have long been a mainstay of ultrafast optics. However, they face ongoing challenges regarding long-term reliability, and can only emit pulses at regular intervals. Here, we present an alternative approach by seeding a fiber amplifier with a gain-switched diode. Gain-switched diodes emit pulses that are much longer and less coherent than those from modelocked oscillators. We address these issues using fiber nonlinearities: a Mamyshev regenerator isolates a coherent component of the pulse, and subsequent parabolic amplification allows the pulses to be compressed to 140 fs with 13 MW of peak power. Starting with a gain-switched diode means our system is highly robust and can in principle be electronically triggered in arbitrary pulse patterns. This flexibility may facilitate machining or microscopy sources (where pulses must be synchronized to scanning optics) or enable new types of functional neuroimaging (where specific neurons must be illuminated without saturating an entire sample).
Self-similar pulse evolution in a fiber laser with a comb-like dispersion-decreasing fiber
Yuxing Tang, Zhanwei Liu, Walter Fu, and Frank W. Wise. “Self-similar pulse evolution in a fiber laser with a comb-like dispersion-decreasing fiber” Optics Letters, Vol. 41, Issue 10, pp. 2290-2293 (2016).
We demonstrate an erbium fiber laser with self-similar pulse evolution inside a comb-like dispersion-decreasing fiber (DDF), which has the potential of generating nJ-level few-cycle pulses directly from a fiber oscillator. A passive DDF is formally equivalent to a fiber with constant gain, and can thus support self-similar pulse evolution but without any bandwidth limitation. Considering the challenges to fabrication of DDF, we try to imitate an ideal DDF with a comb-like DDF based on segments of ordinary fibers, which offers major practical advantages. The laser generates 1.3 nJ pulses with parabolic shapes and linear chirps, which can be dechirped to 37 fs. This constitutes a 4-fold increase in pulse energy compared to previous reports of this pulse duration.
Generation of 8 nJ pulses from a normal-dispersion thulium fiber laser
There is great interest in development of better short-pulse lasers in the 2-5 μm region. We show the first thulium-doped fiber laser at 2 μm to reap the performance benefits of pulse propagation at normal dispersion. Ultra-high numerical-aperture fibers provide normal dispersion and are employed to shift the cavity dispersion to the normal regime. A laser that exhibits elements of self-similar pulse evolution generates 8-nJ and 130-fs pulses, which corresponds to 4 times the highest peak power achieved previously by a Tm fiber laser.
Spatiotemporal dynamics of multimode optical solitons
We launch pulses into multimode fiber, exciting multiple spatial modes. We show how nonlinear interactions between the modes give rise to a multimode soliton. A multimode soliton is a non-dispersing wavepacket that contains several distinct spatial mode components, and propagates through the fiber without changing its shape due to a balance between nonlinear and linear effects. We observe spatiotemporal soliton fission – the disintegration of an optical pulse into distinct multimode soliton components with different spatiotemporal properties. Lastly, we observe the effect of stimulated Raman scattering on multimode solitons. This causes them to shift to longer wavelengths, while maintaining their multimode soliton characteristics.
Multimode fiber acts as an intermediate-dimensional system. As the size of the fiber becomes infinite, optical dynamics are (3+1)-D (space+time). Meanwhile, as the fiber becomes small it becomes single mode, so that optical dynamics can be described using only (1+1) dimensions. Analytically, stable spatiotemporal solitons are expected for some region (blue) between 1 and 3 spatial dimensions. It is in this regime that multimode solitons are expected.
Ultrafast fiber lasers based on self-similar pulse evolution: a review of current progress
We summarize the state of research on lasers based on self-similar pulse evolutions, including passive similariton, amplifier similariton, and others. Self-similar fiber lasers are conceptually different from other kinds of short-pulse lasers. This distinction allows for exciting new laser design options.
Characteristic steady-state round trip evolutions of the pulse chirp for different mode-locking regimes. Solid lines indicate the chirp of the pulse, while dashed lines indicate the local dispersion of the cavity. In the highlighted plot, the lines show the difference of the pulse from a parabolic pulse.