The University of Southampton

Advanced Solid-State Sources

Advanced Solid-State Sources

The Advanced Solid State Sources Group is led by Professor Andy Clarkson

Research area:

Scaling output power and brightness from laser sources is an activity that has pre-occupied many within the laser community ever since the invention of the laser.  This has been driven partly by curiosity, but increasingly by the needs of a wealth of applications and in turn is opening up the prospect of many new applications. 

Research in the Advanced Solid-State Sources and Applications group is directed mainly towards investigating new concepts for scaling output power and brightness from fibre lasers and amplifiers, crystal solid-state lasers and hybrid fibre-bulk lasers, and investigating novel schemes for efficient nonlinear frequency conversion of these sources to generate intense light in the ultraviolet, visible and mid-infrared spectral regimes.

Advanced Solid-State Sources

The group has a very broad range of interests and activities within the high power laser area, and has close links with many other research groups within the ORC and with other laboratories and industry. A key element of our work is the study of the underlying physics of optical sources operating at high power levels to allow the formulation of new strategies for improving overall performance and extending functionality.  The ultimate goal of this work is to develop technologies for the next generation of high power optical sources, and in so doing address the demands from a growing number of applications in areas such as precision materials processing, defence, medicine, laser radar, remote monitoring and sensing. 

Advanced Solid State Sources group members

Advanced Solid-State Sources
Advanced Solid-State Sources

Current research themes:

  • Advanced concepts for scaling output power in fibre lasers and amplifiers
  • Novel fibre architectures for scaling core area and brightness enhancement
  • New concepts for pulsed fibre sources
  • Nonlinear frequency conversion schemes to access the ultraviolet, visible and mid-infrared spectral regimes
  • Hybrid fibre-bulk laser schemes for scaling output pulse energy
  • High-power fibre-based superfluorescent sources and their applications
  • Planar solid-state sources
  • Novel pump beam focussing and in-coupling schemes
  • Laser beam combination
  • Thermal effects and their mitigation
  • Optical vortex (hollow) beam generation
  • High power mid-infrared lasers
  • Laser processing of materials
Advanced Solid-State Sources

Research sponsorship:

The group is grateful for the research funding provided by past and present sponsors including:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, European Commission, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), Laser Quantum, SPI Lasers, Leonardo, Fianium, QinetiQ, USAF/EOARD, DARPA

Internal collaboration:

Within the ORC the Advanced Solid-State Source group collaborates closely with the following groups:

Planar Waveguide and Slab Lasers Group

Fibre Bragg Gratings Group

Silica Fibre Fabrication Group

High Power Fibre Lasers Group

Pulsed Laser Deposition Group

and others.

PhD project opportunities for 2017

The Advanced Solid-State Sources group currently has vacancies for new students in the following research areas:

High power mid-infrared lasers

This project will investigate novel schemes for power-scaling of lasers and optical parametric oscillators operating in the mid-infrared (2µm – 5µm) wavelength band which, if successful, will pave the way for a new generation of sources boasting levels of performance well beyond the current state-of-the-art.

There is increasing demand for high power laser sources emitting in the mid-infrared spectral region to serve the needs of a growing number of applications in areas such as laser processing of materials, medicine, sensing and defence. The standard method of accessing the mid-infrared wavelength region is via nonlinear frequency conversion of near-infrared solid-state lasers.  Unfortunately, this approach has a number of shortcomings as power levels are increased, due to the effects of waste heat generated in the laser medium, and, as a consequence, power levels are limited.  This project will explore a different strategy which combines the power-scaling advantages of cladding-pumped thulium and holmium fibre lasers operating in the two-micron band with novel nonlinear frequency converters to generate mid-infrared output at very high power levels. The project will involve a detailed study into the physics of two-micron fibre lasers and mid-infrared sources operated at very high power levels to establish a power scaling strategy and an understanding of the fundamental limits.  This research will be supported by an EPSRC CASE Studentship and as such will involve close collaboration with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of lasers for defence applications (Leonardo, based in the UK).  The studentship comes with a stipend (including an additional industrial bursary) of up to £21,000 (tax-free) and with fees paid.

Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline. Further information can be obtained from Professor Andy Clarkson at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton (email: wac@orc.soton.ac.uk).

Hollow beam lasers and laser processing

Laser modes with a doughnut-shaped beam profile can have many unique properties, including axially-symmetric polarisation (azimuthal or radial) or orbital angular momentum. As a result, these beams have und use in a diverse range of applications from ‘laser tweezers’ to laser processing of materials. This project will explore novel approaches for generating hollow laser beams in fibre, bulk and planar laser formats exploiting recent advances in cladding-pumped fibre laser technology and solid-state laser technology.

Our approach will target the two-micron wavelength band and routes to very high average power levels with flexibility in mode of operation.

The project will investigate the underlying physics of hollow-beam generation and the fundamental limits. Particular emphasis will be directed pulsed mode of operation, and the generation of high peak powers and high pulse energies where there is a wealth of exciting applications. The project will then explore the potential benefits that these sources can yield in a range of different laser processing applications using our in-house laser processing facility.

This research will be supported by an EPSRC Studentship. The studentship comes with a stipend of £18,000 (tax-free) and with fees paid.

Applicants should have a first class or a good upper-second class degree (or the equivalent) in physics, engineering or a related discipline. Further information can be obtained from Professor Andy Clarkson at the Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton (email: wac@orc.soton.ac.uk).

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