Ing. Martin Smrž, Ph.D.
The main objective of this research program is the development of high average-power class diode-pumped solid-state lasers, including multi-slab laser architectures and thin-disk based picosecond laser systems reaching average powers up to 1 kW. The ALD team is also involved in the design and characterization of optical components and systems for high power operation.
High-Energy Slab Lasers
First operation of the multi-slab laser at HiLASE (“Bivoj”) at the end of 2016 demonstrated amplification of 10 ns pulses at 10 Hz pulse repetition rate to an energy of 105 J at 1029.5 nm, representing the world’s first kW average power, high-energy, nanosecond pulsed diode pumped solid state laser. We also work on associated laser technologies, which include high-power optical isolators, adaptive optics, and characterization of laser materials at cryogenic temperatures.
Efficient, high energy, pulsed laser systems operating at high pulse repetition rates (10 Hz and beyond) are required for a wide range of commercial and scientific applications, including advanced materials processing, laser shock treatment of mechanical components, and pumping of ultra-high intensity femtosecond petawatt-class lasers to generate high-brightness secondary radiation (x-ray, gamma-ray) and particle (electron, proton, ion, muon) sources. These lasers have potential applications for novel medical therapies, and in high-resolution radiography and advanced imaging for industrial and security sectors.
Thin disk Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
We currently operate four powerful thin-disk laser platforms called “PERLA” operating at the wavelength of 1030 nm. In addition, nonlinear frequency conversion broadens the applicable spectral range from UV (200 nm) to mid-infrared (> 3 µm) making it a versatile tool in many hi-tech industrial, scientific, or biomedical laser applications. Such lasers can be used to drill precise hair-size holes, improve the manufacturing of fast computer chips and large displays, create antibacterial surfaces, and for other applications with high societal impact. Our group focuses on the development of these laser systems since 2012.
We designed the thin-disk laser platform PERLA C by employing a high-average-power regenerative amplifier concept. Using an Yb:YAG gain medium, the average output power is scalable from a few watts up to 1 kW and pulse energy can reach > 100 mJ at the wavelength of 1.03 µm. Typical pulse duration is < 2 ps. Compact femtosecond lasers are currently investigated as well. Recently, we have started to develop a thin-disk laser system (PERLA D) based on Ho-doped gain media generating 2.1 µm laser beams.
In addition, we operate frequency conversion setups for the generation of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th harmonic frequencies. Conversion to longer wavelength is realized by optical parametric generation (OPG) followed by optical parametric amplification. Such complex optical systems are able to cover a wide spectral range from 206 nm to > 3 um and can serve as an excellent tool for industrial material processing, according to the Industry 4.0 standard in the future.