We report a long-time working femtosecond laser using metal-free sapphire-based graphene as a saturable absorber (SA). The sapphire-based graphene yielded excellent nonlinear saturable absorption properties and was demonstrated to be suitable as an SA for an ultrafast solid-state laser. Stable mode-locked pulses of 325 fs were obtained at a central wavelength of 1032 nm with a repetition rate of 66.3 MHz. At pump power of 8.23 W the average output power was 1.78 W and the highest pulse energy reached 26.8 nJ with a peak power of 72.6 kW. Our work opens up a facile route for making reliable graphene SA in the mode-locking technique and also displays an exciting prospect in making low-cost and ultrafast lasers.
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