A new type of solid-state femtosecond amplifier is demonstrated that is based on quasi-phase-matched parametric amplification. Such gain media are different from conventional solid-state amplifiers in that their amplification bandwidths and pump and signal wavelengths can be engineered. Furthermore, high gain is characteristic of parametric amplification, permitting extraction of high energies without the need to resort to multiple-pass configurations. We report a parametric chirped pulse amplification system in which femtosecond pulses from a mode-locked Er-doped fiber laser system are amplified to 1-mJ energies in a single pass by use of a 5-mm-long periodically poled LiNbO<sub>3</sub> (PPLN) crystal. This amplifier is pumped by 5-mJ and 0.5-ns pulses at 786 nm, demonstrating that limitations associated with a low optical-damage threshold for long pump pulses can be overcome because of the high nonlinearity of PPLN and that relatively simple <i>Q</i> -switched lasers can be used with such parametric amplifiers.
© 1998 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article