New ultrafast laser pulse created in record time
The shortest laser pulse for newly developed technology was recently created by the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics. This research sets the record for this work, which has important applications in biomedicine and engineering.
A new standard has now been established with ultrafast laser pulses over a broad range of wavelengths, rather than traditional laser sources. The new device, called a “stretched-pulse soliton Kerr resonator,” enhances the performance of ultrafast laser pulses. Among the areas that will be most impacted include a range of engineering and biomedical applications, including spectroscopy, frequency synthesis, distance ranging and pulse generation, among others.
Speed of the new pulse is measured in femtoseconds, or one quadrillionth of a second. This pulse is freed from the physical limits endemic to laser gain — and the limits of the sources’ wavelengths. A new soliton was discovered when the lab overcame a challenge to pulse duration in other versions of Kerr resonators.
William Renninger, an assistant professor of optics at the University of Rochester, worked with a team of graduate research and postdoctoral associates and together, they improved upon Kerr resonators. Contributors include lead author Xue Dong, along with Qian Yang, Christopher Spiess and Victor Bucklew.
The study was funded by in part by the University’s Technology Development Fund, a University Research Award and by the National Institutes of Health.
Renninger, an expert in creating sources for femtosecond lasers, received his BS and PhD degrees in applied physics from Cornell University. Before joining the Institute of Optics, he was a postdoctoral associate and an associate research scientist in the Department of Applied Physics at Yale University.
A National Science Foundation Career award was recently given to Renninger, which includes funding to create open source access to the details on these discoveries. This funding will also provide consulting for research groups at smaller universities to encourage them to create femtosecond lasers for basic research.
Ultimately, the objective is to have a guide published on the website, so everyone can access it.