Laser and Laser Material Research at the UNM Directed Energy Center

This talk will discuss the recent work in UNM's new Directed Energy Center that has revolved around laser and laser material development. Experiments in laser cooling ytterbium doped silica have resulted in a world record for the material class, with cooling by 67 K from room temperature achieved in the past year. The first observation of lasing in an all-solid-state Anderson localizing optical fiber was also recently made. A great deal of spectroscopic work has been done on both ytterbium doped silica and of various rare-earth ions in novel lanthanum titanate glasses. Temperature-dependent and site-selective fluorescence studies of Yb:silica have challenged established methodologies in laser cooling materials characterization as they apply to inhomogeneously broadened media. The application of this work extends to the more general and industrially important field of high-power fiber lasers, as an ongoing effort in the spectral decomposition of the component bands as a function of temperature will allow precise modeling of laser cross-sections in and along the core of active fibers operating in the kilowatt regime. Finally, rare-earth titanate glasses with lanthanum and erbium, dysprosium or ytterbium are being studied for their near and mid-infrared optical properties. These materials defy traditional glass-forming rules with high average coordination numbers and significant edge sharing fractions of the network forming polyhedra. While these attributes make the materials exciting to study from a fundamental viewpoint, they also result in physically robust materials with a low enough phonon energy that the host shows potential as a gain media for the erbium 2.8 micron transitions or as a Raman laser platform for the 3-5 micron atmospheric window.