Powerful coherent light with a spectrum spanning the mid-infrared (MIR) spectral range is crucial for a number of applications in natural as well as life sciences, but so far has only been available from large-scale synchrotron sources1. Here we present a compact apparatus that generates pulses with a sub-two-cycle duration and with an average power of 0.1 W and a spectral coverage of 6.8–16.4 μm (at −30 dB). The demonstrated source combines, for the first time in this spectral region, a high power, a high repetition rate and phase coherence. The MIR pulses emerge via difference-frequency generation (DFG) driven by the nonlinearly compressed pulses of a Kerr-lens mode-locked ytterbium-doped yttrium–aluminium–garnet (Yb:YAG) thin-disc oscillator. The resultant 100 MHz MIR pulse train is hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than state-of-the-art frequency combs that emit in this range2,3,4, and offers a high dynamic range for spectroscopy in the molecular fingerprint region4,5,6,7 and an ideal prerequisite for hyperspectral imaging8 as well as for the time-domain coherent control of vibrational dynamics9,10,11.
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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Cluster of Excellence ‘Munich Centre for Advanced Photonics’, Fundacio Cellex Barcelona, the Ministerio de Economa y Competitividad through Plan Nacional (FIS2011-30465-C02-01), the Catalan Agencia de Gestió D'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca with SGR 2014-2016 and Laserlab-Europe grant agreement 284464.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Pupeza, I., Sánchez, D., Zhang, J. et al. High-power sub-two-cycle mid-infrared pulses at 100 MHz repetition rate. Nature Photon 9, 721–724 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2015.179
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