The construction, modeling, and performance characteristics of a new resonator design for ultrafast cavity-dumped oscillators are presented. An acousto-optic Bragg cell was incorporated at the end of the longer arm of a Ti:sapphire oscillator rather than in the shorter arm as in several recent studies. The new arrangement improves the pulse intensity stability of the oscillator and significantly reduces the effort required in construction. The experimental findings are supported by comparison of the stability regions of the laser cavities based on the two different designs. To demonstrate the potential of cavity-dumped oscillators for spatially resolved ultrafast spectroscopy studies, the pulse duration is characterized at the focal plane of two achromatic high-N.A. oil-immersion objectives with different amounts of flat-field correction. Transform-limited pulse widths as short as 15 fs are obtained. To our knowledge, this is the shortest pulse duration measured with true high-N.A. (N.A. > 1) focusing conditions.
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