Review Article | Published:

Ultrafast fibre lasers

Nature Photonics volume 7, pages 868874 (2013) | Download Citation

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 28 October 2013
  • An Erratum to this article was published on 28 October 2013

This article has been updated

Abstract

Ultrafast fibre lasers are fundamental building blocks of many photonic systems used in industrial and medical applications as well as for scientific research. Here, we review the essential components and operation regimes of ultrafast fibre lasers and discuss how they are instrumental in a variety of applications. In regards to laser technology, we discuss the present state of the art of large-mode-area fibres and their utilization in high-power, chirped-pulse amplification systems. In terms of commercial applications, we introduce industrial micromachining and medical imaging, and describe emerging applications in the mid-infrared and extreme-ultraviolet spectral regions, as facilitated by frequency shifting induced by fibre frequency combs.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Change history

  • 28 October 2013

    In the version of this Review Article originally published online and in print, the label for the horizontal axis in Fig. 3 should read "Wavelength (μm)" and not "Wavelength (nm)". This has now been corrected in both the HTML and PDF versions of the Review Article.

  • 28 October 2013

    In the version of this Review Article originally published online and in print, the DOI was incorrectly specified as 10.1038/nphoton.2013.270. The correct DOI is 10.1038/nphoton.2013.280. This has now been corrected in both the HTML and PDF versions of the Review Article.

References

  1. 1.

    & A flexible fibrescope, using static scanning. Nature 173, 39–41 (1954).

  2. 2.

    Nobel Lecture: sand from centuries past: send future voices fast. Rev. Mod. Phys. 82, 2299–2303 (2010).

  3. 3.

    Optical maser action of Nd+3 in a barium crown glass. Phys. Rev. Lett. 7, 444–446 (1961).

  4. 4.

    , , & Low-noise erbium-doped fibre amplifier operating at 1.54μm. Electron. Lett. 23, 1026–1028 (1987).

  5. 5.

    , & High-gain erbium-doped traveling-wave fiber amplifier. Opt. Lett. 12, 888–890 (1987).

  6. 6.

    , , & Femtosecond fibre laser. Electron. Lett. 26, 1737–1738 (1990).

  7. 7.

    III All-fiber ring soliton laser mode locked with a nonlinear mirror. Opt. Lett. 16, 539–541 (1991).

  8. 8.

    , , & 77-fs pulse generation from a stretched-pulse mode-locked all-fiber ring laser. Opt. Lett. 18, 1080–1082 (1993).

  9. 9.

    , , , & Ultra-compact dispersion compensated femtosecond fiber oscillators and amplifiers. Paper CThG1 in Conf. on Lasers Electro-Optics (OSA, 2005).

  10. 10.

    et al. High-performance, vibration-immune, fiber-laser frequency comb. Opt. Lett. 34, 638–640 (2009).

  11. 11.

    , , , & Mode-locked femtosecond all-normal all-PM Yb-doped fiber laser using a nonlinear amplifying loop mirror. Opt. Express 20, 10545–10551 (2012).

  12. 12.

    , , & Nonlinear amplifying loop mirror. Opt. Lett. 15, 752–754 (1990).

  13. 13.

    , & Plasma evolution during metal ablation with ultrashort laser pulses. Opt. Express 13, 10597–10607 (2005).

  14. 14.

    , , , & Generation of high-power femtosecond optical pulses by chirped pulse amplification in erbium doped fibers. in Proc. Opt. Soc. Am. Top. Meeting on Nonlinear Guided Wave Phenomena (OSA, 1993).

  15. 15.

    , & Generation of femtosecond optical pulses with nanojoule energy from a diode laser and fiber based system. Appl. Phys. Lett. 63, 1742 (1993).

  16. 16.

    et al. Nonlinear chirped-pulse amplification of a soliton-similariton laser to 1 μJ at 1550 nm. Paper CTu2M in CLEO: Science and Innovations (OSA, 2012).

  17. 17.

    , , , & Time-resolved observations of shock waves and cavitation bubbles generated by femtosecond laser pulses in corneal tissue and water. Las. Surg. Med. 19, 23–31 (1996).

  18. 18.

    , , , & Femtosecond, picosecond and nanosecond laser ablation of solids. Appl. Phys. A 63, 109–115 (1996).

  19. 19.

    et al. Laser-ablated volume and depth as a function of pulse duration in aluminum targets. Appl. Opt. 44, 278–281 (2005).

  20. 20.

    , & Modeling of multi-burst mode pico-second laser ablation for improved material removal rate. Appl. Phys. A 98, 407–415 (2010).

  21. 21.

    et al. High-power picosecond fiber amplifier based on nonlinear spectral compression. Opt. Lett. 30, 714–716 (2005).

  22. 22.

    Single-mode excitation of multimode fibers with ultrashort pulses. Opt. Lett. 23, 52–54 (1998).

  23. 23.

    , & Single-mode operation of a coiled multimode fiber amplifier, Opt. Lett. 25, 442–444 (2000).

  24. 24.

    , , & Angular-momentum coupled optical waves in chirally-coupled-core fibers. Opt. Express 19, 26515–26528 (2011).

  25. 25.

    , , & Breaking the limit of maximum effective area for robust single-mode propagation in optical fibers. Opt. Lett. 30, 2855–2857 (2005).

  26. 26.

    et al. High average power large-pitch fiber amplifier with robust single-mode operation. Opt. Lett. 36, 689–691 (2011).

  27. 27.

    , & St. J. Endlessly single-mode photonic crystal fiber. Opt. Lett. 22, 961–963 (1997).

  28. 28.

    et al. The influence of index-depressions in core-pumped Yb-doped large pitch fibers. Opt. Express 18, 26834–26842 (2010).

  29. 29.

    , , & Single-mode ytterbium-doped large-mode-area photonic bandgap rod fiber amplifier. Opt. Express 19, 7398–7409 (2011).

  30. 30.

    et al. Impact of fiber outer boundaries on leaky mode losses in leakage channel fibers. Opt. Express 21, 24039–24048 (2013).

  31. 31.

    et al. Ytterbium-doped all glass leakage channel fibers with highly fluorine-doped silica pump cladding. Opt. Express 17, 8962–8969 (2009).

  32. 32.

    , & Extremely large mode area optical fibers formed by thermal stress. Opt. Express 17, 11782–11793 (2009).

  33. 33.

    et al. Nanosecond pulse amplification in a 6000 μm2 effective area higher-order mode erbium-doped fiber amplifier. Paper JTh1l.2 in Quant. Electron. Las. Sci. Conf. (OSA, 2012).

  34. 34.

    et al. 26 mJ, 130 W Q-switched fiber-laser system with near-diffraction-limited beam quality. Opt. Lett. 37, 1073–1075 (2012).

  35. 35.

    et al. Fiber chirped-pulse amplification system emitting 3.8 GW peak power. Opt. Express 19, 255–260 (2011).

  36. 36.

    , & Visible continuum generation in air-silica microstructure optical fibers with anomalous dispersion at 800 nm. Opt. Lett. 25, 25–27 (2000).

  37. 37.

    , & Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber. Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006).

  38. 38.

    et al. High power polarization maintaining supercontinuum source. Paper p1-1 in Las. Electro-Opt. 2007 Inter. Quant. Electron. Conf. (2007).

  39. 39.

    et al. Highly nonlinear dispersion-shifted fibers and their application to broadband wavelength converter. Opt. Fib. Technol. 4, 204–214 (1998).

  40. 40.

    Blue extension of optical fibre supercontinuum generation. J. Opt. 12, 113001 (2010).

  41. 41.

    et al. Mid-IR supercontinuum generation from nonsilica microstructured optical fibers. IEEE J. of Sel. Top. Quant. Electron. 13, 738–749 (2007).

  42. 42.

    & Light trapping in gravity-like potentials and expansion of supercontinuum spectra in photonic-crystal fibres. Nature Photon. 1, 653–657 (2007).

  43. 43.

    Nobel Lecture: Defining and measuring optical frequencies. Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1279–1295 (2006).

  44. 44.

    , , & Absolute optical frequency measurement of the cesium D1 line with a mode-locked laser. Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 3568–3571 (1999).

  45. 45.

    et al. Optical frequency comb with submillihertz linewidth and more than 10 W average power. Nature Photon. 2, 355–359 (2008).

  46. 46.

    et al. Frequency comb stabilization with bandwidth beyond the limit of gain lifetime by an intracavity graphene electro-optic modulator. Opt. Lett. 37, 3084–3086 (2012).

  47. 47.

    et al. Phase-locked, erbium-fiber-laser-based frequency comb in the near infrared. Opt. Lett. 29, 250–252 (2004).

  48. 48.

    et al. Cavity-enhanced similariton Yb-fiber laser frequency comb: 3 × 1014 W/cm2 peak intensity at 136 MHz. Opt. Lett. 32, 2870–2872 (2007).

  49. 49.

    , , , & Optically referenced Tm-fiber-laser frequency comb. Paper AT5A.3 in Adv. Solid-State Photon. (OSA, 2012).

  50. 50.

    et al. Femtosecond coherent seeding of a broadband Tm:fiber amplifier by an Er:fiber system. Opt. Lett. 37, 554–556 (2012).

  51. 51.

    et al. All-passive phase locking of a compact Er:fiber laser system. Opt. Lett. 36, 540–542 (2011).

  52. 52.

    et al. Mid-infrared supercontinuum generation in As2S3-silica “nano-spike” step-index waveguide. Opt. Express 21, 10969–10977 (2013).

  53. 53.

    , , & 80 W, 120 fs Yb-fiber frequency comb. Opt. Lett. 35, 3015–3017 (2010).

  54. 54.

    et al. A frequency comb and precision spectroscopy experiment in space. Paper AF2H.5 in CLEO: Appl. Technol. (OSA, 2013).

  55. 55.

    , , , & Optical clockwork with an offset-free difference-frequency comb: accuracy of sum-and difference-frequency generation. Opt. Lett. 29, 310–312 (2004).

  56. 56.

    et al. Milliwatt-level frequency combs in the 8-14 μm range via difference frequency generation from an Er: fiber oscillator. Opt. Lett. 38, 1155–1157 (2013).

  57. 57.

    et al. Phase-stabilized, 1. 5 W frequency comb at 2.8–4.8 μm. Opt. Lett. 34, 1330–1332 (2009).

  58. 58.

    et al. Self-phase-locked degenerate femtosecond optical parametric oscillator. Opt. Lett. 33, 1896–1898 (2008).

  59. 59.

    et al. Octave-spanning ultrafast OPO with 2.6–6.1μm instantaneous bandwidth pumped by femtosecond Tm-fiber laser. Opt. Express 20, 7046–7053 (2012).

  60. 60.

    et al. Widely tunable midinfrared difference frequency generation in orientation-patterned GaAs pumped with a femtosecond Tm-fiber system. Opt. Lett. 37, 2928–2930 (2012).

  61. 61.

    The evolving optical frequency comb. J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 27, B51–B62 (2010).

  62. 62.

    Searching for applications with a fine-tooth comb. Nature Photon. 5, 186–188 (2011).

  63. 63.

    , & Topical review: optical comb generators for laser frequency measurement. Meas. Sci. Technol. 20, 2001–2012 (2009).

  64. 64.

    et al. High-precision molecular interrogation by direct referencing of a quantum-cascade-laser to a near-infrared frequency comb. Opt. Express 19, 17520–17527 (2011).

  65. 65.

    , & Kerr-lens, mode-locked lasers as transfer oscillators for optical frequency measurements. Appl. Phys. B 74, 1–6 (2002).

  66. 66.

    et al. Molecular gas sensing below parts per trillion: radiocarbon-dioxide optical detection. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 270802 (2011).

  67. 67.

    et al. Cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy of multiple trace gas species using a supercontinuum radiation source. Opt. Express 16, 10178–10188 (2008).

  68. 68.

    et al. Broadband intracavity molecular spectroscopy with a degenerate mid-IR OPO. Paper CF2C.2 in CLEO: Sci. Innov. (2012).

  69. 69.

    et al. Optical frequency comb spectroscopy. Faraday Discuss. 150, 23–31 (2011).

  70. 70.

    & Cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy. Appl. Phys. B 91, 397–414 (2008).

  71. 71.

    et al. A transportable spectrometer for in situ and local measurements of iodine monoxide at mixing ratios in the 10−14 range. Appl. Phys. Lett. 100, 251110 (2012).

  72. 72.

    , , & Cavity-enhanced optical frequency comb spectroscopy: application to human breath analysis. Opt. Express 16, 2387–2397 (2008).

  73. 73.

    , & Molecular fingerprinting with the resolved modes of a femtosecond laser frequency comb. Nature 445, 627–630 (2007).

  74. 74.

    , & Spectrally resolved laser ranging with frequency combs. Opt. Express 18, 15981–15989 (2010).

  75. 75.

    , & Coherent multiheterodyne spectroscopy using stabilized optical frequency combs. Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 13902 (2008).

  76. 76.

    , , , & Active Fourier-transform spectroscopy combining the direct RF beating of two fiber-based mode-locked lasers with a novel referencing method. Opt. Express 16, 4347–4365 (2008).

  77. 77.

    et al. Power optimization of XUV frequency combs for spectroscopy applications. Opt. Express 19, 23483–23493 (2011).

  78. 78.

    et al. Compact high-repetition-rate source of coherent 100 eV radiation. Nature Photon. 7, 608–612 (2013).

  79. 79.

    , , , , 23 fs pulses at 250 W of average power from a FCPA with solid core nonlinear compression. Paper 86011F in SPIE LASE (OSA, 2013).

  80. 80.

    et al. 100 W nonlinear compression in hollow core fibers at 1 MHz repetition rate. Paper AT1A.6 in Adv. Solid-State Photon. (OSA, 2012).

  81. 81.

    , , , & High-energy femtosecond pulse amlification in a quasi-phase-matched parametric amplifier. Opt. Lett. 23, 210–212 (1998).

  82. 82.

    , & New mid-infrared light sources. IEEE J. Select. Top. Quant. Electron. 18, 31–540 (2012).

  83. 83.

    , , & Tunable pulses from below 300 to 970 nm with durations down to 14 fs based on a 2 MHz ytterbium-doped fiber system. Opt. Lett. 33, 192–194 (2008).

  84. 84.

    et al. Ultrafast fiber lasers for strong-field physics experiments. Las. Photon. Rev. 5, 634–646 (2011).

  85. 85.

    et al. Towards isolated attosecond pulses at megahertz repetition rates. Nature Photon. 7, 555–559 (2013).

  86. 86.

    et al. Yb: YAG Innoslab amplifier: efficient high repetition rate subpicosecond pumping system for optical parametric chirped pulse amplification. Opt. Lett. 36, 2456–2458 (2011).

  87. 87.

    et al. Coherently-combined two channel femtosecond fiber CPA system producing 3 mJ pulse energy. Opt. Express 19, 24280–24285 (2011).

  88. 88.

    et al. Multi-core leakage-channel fiber for coherent beam combining. Paper 7195–59 in Photonics West (SPIE, 2009).

  89. 89.

    , , & Wavefront control of a multicore ytterbium-doped pulse fiber amplifier by digital holography. Opt. Lett. 35, 1428–1430 (2010).

  90. 90.

    , & Divided-pulse amplification of ultrashort pulses. Opt. Lett. 32, 871–873 (2007).

  91. 91.

    et al. Femtosecond fiber chirped- and divided-pulse amplification system. Opt. Lett. 38, 106–108 (2013).

  92. 92.

    & Optical frequency comb generation in gas-filled hollow core photonic crystal fibres. J. Opt. A 11, 103002 (2009).

  93. 93.

    , , & The future is fibre accelerators. Nature Photon. 7, 258–261 (2013).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. IMRA America Inc., 1044 Woodridge Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA

    • Martin E. Fermann
  2. DESY, Notkestrasse 85, 22603 Hamburg, Germany

    • Ingmar Hartl

Authors

  1. Search for Martin E. Fermann in:

  2. Search for Ingmar Hartl in:

Competing interests

M.E.F. is employed by IMRA, a commercial manufacturer of ultrafast fibre lasers.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Martin E. Fermann.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2013.280

Further reading