Originally introduced in 2005 for high-speed optical coherence tomography, the rapidly wavelength-swept Fourier-domain mode-locked (FDML) laser still, to this day, enables highest imaging speeds through a very high-speed spectral tuning capability. The FDML laser achieves a tuning bandwidth of over 1/10th of its center wavelength and can sweep this entire bandwidth in less than a microsecond. Interestingly, even though it covers a very broad spectral range, instantaneously it has a narrow spectral linewidth that puts it in a unique space compared to other high-speed broadband laser sources, e.g., mode-locked lasers or supercontinuum sources. Although it has been applied for nonlinear Raman spectroscopy and imaging, a current drawback of this continuous wave laser is the relatively low instantaneous power of 10–100 mW. Here, we report the combination of an FDML laser with a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) architecture to increase the instantaneous power of the FDML for nonlinear optical interactions. The output of an FDML laser around 1060 nm is modulated to short pulses by using an electro-optic amplitude modulator and subsequently amplified using ytterbium-doped fiber amplifiers (YDFAs). This generates a spectral rainbow of 65 picosecond pulses, where each pulse has a distinct, monochromatic wavelength. The instantaneous power can be adjusted by the YDFAs to reach nonlinear optical excitation regimes. This wavelength-swept FDML-MOPA laser will have a vast range of applications in, e.g., nonlinear optics, spectroscopy, imaging, and sensing.
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5 April 2019: A typographical correction was made to the author affiliations.
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