Thermal lensing in a high power diode-pumped continuous wave Yb⁺³:KY(WO₄)₂ laser
MetadataShow full item record
High power diode-pumped solid state (DPSS) lasers are a rapidly growing technology that is attractive for various applications in scientific and industrial fields. DPSS lasers are highly efficient, reliable and durable with superior beam quality when compared to flash-lamp pumped lasers. Double-tungstate crystals such as potassium yttrium tungstate Yb:KY(WO₄)₂ (Yb:KYW) are one of the most popular active materials used in DPSS lasers for generation of continuous wave radiation and ultrashort (i.e. femtosecond, 10⁻¹⁵ s) pulses with high average output power. The high pump power of laser diodes results in considerable heat generation in a laser crystal that in turn causes thermal lensing effect. Thermal lensing affects the performance and stability of a resonator, and plays an important role in limiting the output power and degrading the beam quality of solid state lasers. Despite these facts, no detailed studies of thermal effects in Yb:KYW lasers were reported to date. In this work thermal lensing in a diode-pumped Ng-cut Yb:KYW laser operating at the wavelength of 1.04 μm was characterized. A maximum output power of 3.5 W with a nearly diffraction limited output beam (M₂ < 1.2) was achieved under the absorbed pump power of 13.8 W. The focal lengths of the induced thermal lenses were obtained from the laser output beam size measurements at various incident pump power levels and ABCD matrix analysis. At maximum output power the focal length of the induced thermal lens was found to be 814 mm for the Nm direction (horizontal) and 144 mm for the Np direction (vertical). Thermal lens sensitivity factors were 1.26 m⁻¹/W and 0.32 m⁻¹/W for the Np and Nm directions, respectively. This highly astigmatic thermal lensing can be explained by strong anisotropy of thermo-optical properties of the crystal and its cooling geometry. In addition, the finite element analysis (FEA) method was employed to obtain the focal lengths of the induced thermal lens inside the crystal. Simulation results obtained from the theoretical model were compared to experimental data, and the accuracy of the model was verified. The results of this work are critical for practical design of the efficient and reliable Yb:KYW lasers with multi-Watt average output power.