Abstract

Yb:YAG thin-disk (TD) technology has enabled construction of laser/amplifier systems with unprecedented average/peak power levels, and has become the workhorse of many scientific investigations. On the other hand, for some applications, the narrow emission bandwidth of Yb:YAG limits its potential, and the search for alternative broadband TD gain media with suitable thermo-optomechanical parameters is ongoing. The alexandrite gain medium has a broad emission spectrum centered around 750 nm, possesses thermomechanical strength that even outperforms Yb:YAG, and has unique spectroscopic properties enabling efficient laser operation even at elevated temperatures. In this work, we have numerically investigated the power scaling potential of continuous-wave (cw) alexandrite lasers in TD geometry for the first time. Using a detailed laser model, we have compared the potential cw laser performance of Yb:YAG, Ti:Sapphire, Cr:LiSAF, Cr:LiCAF, and alexandrite thin-disk lasers under similar conditions and show that among the investigated transition metal-doped gain media, alexandrite is the best alternative to Yb:YAG in power scaling studies at room temperature. Our analysis further demonstrates that potentially Ti:Sapphire is also a good alternative TD material, but only at cryogenic temperatures. However, in comparison with Yb:YAG, the achievable laser gain is relatively low for both alexandrite and Ti:Sapphire, which then requires usage of low-loss cavities with small output coupling for efficient cw operation.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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