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Title: Spatially homogeneous few-cycle compression of Yb lasers via all-solid-state free-space soliton management
The high power and variable repetition-rate of Yb femtosecond lasers makes them very attractive for ultrafast science. However, for capturing sub-200 fs dynamics, efficient, high-fidelity and high-stability pulse compression techniques are essential. Spectral broadening using an all-solid-state free-space geometry is particularly attractive, as it is simple, robust and low-cost. However, spatial and temporal losses caused by spatio-spectral inhomogeneities have been a major challenge to date, due to coupled space-time dynamics associated with unguided nonlinear propagation. In this work, we use all-solid-state free-space compressors to demonstrate compression of 170 fs pulses at a wavelength of 1030nm from a Yb:KGW laser to ∼9.2 fs, with a highly spatially homogeneous mode. This is achieved by ensuring that the nonlinear beam propagation in periodic layered Kerr media occurs in spatial soliton modes, and by confining the nonlinear phase through each material layer to less than 1.0 rad. A remarkable spatio-spectral homogeneity of ∼0.87 can be realized, which yields a high efficiency of >50% for few-cycle compression. The universality of the method is demonstrated by implementing high-quality pulse compression under a wide range of laser conditions. The high spatiotemporal quality and the exceptional stability of the compressed pulses are further verified by high-harmonic generation. Our predictive method offers a compact and cost-effective solution for high-quality few-cycle-pulse generation from Yb femtosecond lasers, and will enable broad applications in ultrafast science and extreme nonlinear optics.  more » « less
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Optics Express
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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