Over the last three years, synthetic single crystal diamond with high optical quality has become available for the first time. The time is thus ripe to exploit this unique material for laser engineering. Building on their pioneering work characterising, modelling and experimentally proving this material, this team will explore novel means to harness its the extraordinary properties – a thermal conductivity that is one to two orders of magnitude greater than conventional solid-state laser materials, an extremely high rigidity, excellent resistance to mechanical stress, a wide transparency window, and very good Raman gain properties. The thermal conductivity of diamond, in particular, has the potential to revolutionise solid-state laser design. To date, the design of a solid-state laser has largely been driven by the need to manage heat – the use of diamond can remove this requirement leading to simpler and more compact designs for high performance lasers. This programme will focus on introducing laser gain to structures based on novel high optical quality diamond. Four principal approaches will be examined:
1. Developing high thermal conductivity hybrid structures by sandwiching thin slices of laser gain material between layers of diamond.
2. Using the high Raman gain in diamond to develop high performance diamond Raman lasers
3. Exploiting optically efficient, room-temperature colour centres in diamond to develop a revolutionary suite of broadly tuneable and ultrafast visible lasers.
4. Exploring the direct doping of diamond with laser ions, building on the rapid recent progress in diamond synthesis.
Encompassing laser physics, materials science and device engineering, this programme will balance risk and reward to help position Europe as the world-leader in laser engineering. The lasers developed will be important tools in vital sectors such as science (e.g. biological imaging), energy (e.g. wind speed sensing) and medicine (e.g. treating vascular lesions).
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