In comparison with other traditional passive Q-switchers, non-linear saturable semiconductor absorbers exhibit much shorter recovery time and controllability of the most important device parameters---absorption wavelength and saturation energy---during the device manufacturing process. Cavity reflectors with incorporated non-linear semiconductor saturable absorber (SESAM) opened the possibility for designing compact solid-state lasers that operate stably in the ultra-short pulsed regime with high intracavity peak energy and repetition rate in the MHz range. Different research teams and manufacturers have developed SESAMs for passive mode-locking of lasers, based on various solid-state materials (e.g. Yb:YAG, Yb:KYW) which have already demonstrated an excellent performance in femtosecond pulse generation. In turn, high intracavity peak power, realized in lasers based on the thin-disc concept (TDL), have allowed for extremely efficient intracavity nonlinear frequency conversion, such as high harmonic generation.
In the laser design reported by Diebold and co-authors in Optics Letters, a thin slab of Yb:CaGdAlO4 with excellent spectral and thermal properties was used as an active element in a solid-state mode-locked laser. A well-adjusted laser cavity scheme for a single fundamental mode and with a single quantum-well SESAM as the end mirror resulted in a record performance of mode-locked TDLs – stable operation with output/intracavity peak power of 1.1/44 MW at 62 fs and potential availability for further improvement. In this regard, the results reported in this paper can be used for obtaining record-high performances of intracavity nonlinear conversion.
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