Abstract

This paper will review the recent advances in the field of ultrashort pulse generation from optically pumped vertical-external-cavity surface-emitting lasers (OP-VECSELs). In this review, we will summarize the most significant results presented over the last 15 years, before highlighting recent breakthroughs related to mode-locked VECSELs by different research groups. Different mode-locking techniques for OP-VECSELs are described in detail. Previously, saturable absorbers, such as semiconductor saturable absorber mirrors—external, or internal as in mode-locked integrated external-cavity surface emitting lasers (MIXSEL)—, and recently, novel-material-based carbon-nanotube and graphene saturable absorbers have been employed. A new mode-locking method was presented and discussed in recent years. This method is referred to as self-mode-locking or saturable-absorber-free operation of mode-locked VECSELs. In this context, we particularly focus on achievements regarding self-mode-locking, which is considered a promising technique for the realization of high-power, compact, robust and cost-efficient ultrashort pulse lasers. To date, the presented mode-locking techniques have led to great enhancement in average powers, peak powers, and repetition rates that can be achieved with passively mode-locked VECSELs.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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