Thin disk, regenerative amplifier, ytterbium, temporal pulse shaping, thermal distortions, shack hartmann wavefront sensing, optical ceramics, yb:yag ceramic


Lasers which operate at both high average power and energy are in demand for a wide range of applications such as materials processing, directed energy and EUV generation. Presented in this dissertation is a high-power 1 μm ytterbium-based hybrid laser system with temporally tailored pulse shaping capability and up to 62 mJ pulses, with the expectation the system can scale to higher pulse energies. This hybrid system consists of a low power fiber seed and pre-amplifier, and a solid state thin-disk regenerative amplifier. This system has been designed to generate high power temporally tailored pulses on the nanosecond time scale. Temporal tailoring and spectral control are performed in the low power fiber portion of the system with the high pulse energy being generated in the regenerative amplifier. The seed system consists of a 1030 nm fiber-coupled diode, which is transmitted through a Mach-Zehnder-type modulator in order to temporally vary the pulse shape. Typical pulses are 20-30 ns in duration and have energies of ~0.2 nJ from the modulator. These are amplified in a fiber pre-amplifier stage to ~100 nJ before being used to seed the free-space Yb:YAG thin-disk regenerative amplifier. Output pulses have maximum demonstrated pulse energies of 62 mJ with 20 ns pulse after ~250 passes in the cavity. The effects of thermal distortion in laser and passive optical materials are also. Generally the development of high power and high energy lasers is limited by thermal management strategies, as thermally-induced distortions can degrade laser performance and potentially cause catastrophic damage. Novel materials, such as optical ceramics, can be used to mitigate thermal distortions; however, thorough analysis is required to optimize their fabrication and minimize thermal distortions. iv Using a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor (SHWFS), it is possible to analyze the distortion induced in passive and doped optical elements by high power lasers. For example, the thin-disk used in the regenerative amplifier is examined in-situ during CW operation (up to 2 kW CW pump power). Additionally, passive oxide-based optical materials and Yb:YAG optical ceramics are also examined by pumping at 2 and 1 μm respectively to induce thermal distortions which are analyzed with the SHWFS. This method has been developed as a diagnostic for the relative assessment of material quality, and to grade differences in ceramic laser materials associated with differences in manufacturing processes and/or the presence of impurities. In summation, this dissertation presents a high energy 1 μm laser system which is novel in its combination of energy level and temporal tailoring, and an analysis of thermal distortions relevant to the development of high power laser systems.


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Graduation Date





Richardson, Martin


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

August 2018

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)


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