Abstract

Yb:YAG thin-disk lasers offer extraordinary output power, but systems delivering femtosecond pulses at a repetition rate of hundreds of kilohertz are scarce, even though this regime is ideal for ultrafast electron diffraction, coincidence imaging, attosecond science, and terahertz (THz) spectroscopy. Here we describe a regenerative Yb:YAG amplifier based on thin-disk technology, producing 800-fs pulses at a repetition rate adjustable between 50 and 400 kHz. The key design elements are a short regenerative cavity and fast-switching Pockels cell. The average output power is 130 W before the compressor and 100 W after compression, which at 300 kHz corresponds to pulse energies of 430 and 330 μJ, respectively. This is sufficient for a wide range of nonlinear conversions and broadening/compression schemes. As a first application, we use optical rectification in LiNbO3 to produce 30-nJ single-cycle THz pulses with 6 W pump power. The electric field exceeds 10kV/cm at a central frequency of 0.3 THz, suitable for driving structural dynamics or controlling electron beams.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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