Abstract

Passively mode-locked titanium:sapphire (Ti:S) lasers are capable of generating a high-frequency train of transform-limited subpicosecond pulses, producing peak powers near 105 W at moderate average powers. The low energy per pulse ( 20 nJ) permits low fluence levels to be maintained in tightly focused beams, reducing the possibility of saturating fluorescence transitions. These properties, combined with a wavelength tunability from approximately 700 nm to 1 mu m, provide excellent opportunities for studying simultaneous two-photon excitation (TPE). However, pulse formation is very sensitive to a variety of intracavity parameters, including group velocity dispersion compensation, which leads to wavelength-dependent pulse profiles as the wavelength is scanned. This wavelength dependence can seriously distort band shapes and apparent peak heights during collection of two-photon spectral data. Since two-photon excited fluorescence is proportional to the product of the peak and average powers, it is not possible to obtain source-independent spectra by using average power correction schemes alone. Continuouswave, single-mode lasers can be used to generate source-independent two-photon data, but these sources are four to five orders of magnitude less efficient than the mode-locked Ti:S laser and are not practical for general two-photon measurements. Hence, a continuous-wave, single-mode Ti:S laser has been used to collect a sourceindependent excitation spectrum for the laser dye Coumarin 480. This spectrum may be used to correct data collected with multimode sources; this possibility is demonstrated by using a simple ratiometric method to collect accurate TPE spectra with the modelocked Ti:S laser. An approximate value of the two-photon cross section for Coumarin 480 is also given.

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