Mode locked lasers, Semiconductor lasers


The topic of this dissertation is the development of low repetition rate and low noise semiconductor-based laser sources with a focus on linearly chirped pulse laser sources. In the past decade chirped optical pulses have found a plethora of applications such as photonic analogto-digital conversion, optical coherence tomography, laser ranging, etc. This dissertation analyzes the aforementioned applications of linearly chirped pulses and their technical requirements, as well as the performance of previously demonstrated chirped pulse laser sources. Moreover, the focus is shifted to a specific application of the linearly chirped pulses, timestretched photonic analog-to-digital conversion (TS ADC). The challenges of surpassing the speeds of current electronic converters are discussed, while the need for low noise linearly chirped pulse lasers becomes apparent for the realization of TS ADC. The experimental research addresses the topic of low noise chirped pulse generation in three distinct ways. First, a chirped pulse (Theta) laser with an intra-cavity Fabry-Pérot etalon and a long-term referencing mechanism is developed that results in the reduction of the pulse-topulse energy noise. Noise suppression of >15 times is demonstrated. Moreover, an optical frequency comb with spacing equal to the repetition rate (≈100 MHz) is generated using the etalon, resulting in the first reported demonstration of a system operating in the sub-GHz regime based on semiconductor gain. The path for the development of the Theta laser was laid by the precise characterization of the etalon used in this laser cavity design. A narrow linewidth laser is used in conjunction with an acousto-optic modulator externally swept for measuring the etalon’s iv free spectral range with a sub-Hz precision, or 10 parts per billion. Furthermore, the measurement of the etalon long-term drift and birefringence lead to the development of a modified intra-cavity Hänsch-Couillaud locking mechanism for the Theta laser. Moreover, an external feed-forward system was demonstrated that aimed at increasing the temporal/spectral uniformity of the optical pulses. A complete characterization of the system is demonstrated. On a different series of experiments, the pulses emitted by an ultra-low noise but high repetition rate mode-locked laser were demultiplexed resulting in a low repetition rate pulse train. Experimental investigation of the noise properties of the laser proved that they are preserved during the demultiplexing process. The noise of the electrical gate used in this experiment is also investigated which led into the development of a more profound understanding of the electrical noise of periodical pulses and a mechanism of measuring their noise. The appendices in this dissertation provide additional material used for the realization of the main research focus of the dissertation. Measurements of the group delay of the etalon used in the Theta laser are presented in order to demonstrate the limiting factors for the development of this cavity design. The description of a balancing routine is presented, that was used for expanding the dynamic range of intra-cavity active variable delay. At last, the appendix presents the calculations regarding the contribution of various parameters in the limitations of analog-todigital conversion.


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Graduation Date





Delfyett, Peter J.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics








Length of Campus-only Access


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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics, Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic