Mid-infrared laser sources operating in the 3-10 µm wavelength range are of great interest and importance for a wide range of applications that span laser surgery with minimal peripheral damage; infrared sensing applications based on incredibly sensitive and species-selective vibrational finger-printing of molecules; countermeasures against intelligent homing munitions; etc. Recently, the high-field physics and attosecond science community became strongly interested in intense ultrafast sources operating in this notoriously difficult for lasers spectral range, signaling a big potential scientific market. Because of the absence of lasing materials, such sources are based on nonlinear-optical frequency conversion of near-IR pulsed lasers. To date, narrowband tunable high-energy low-intensity pulses from nanosecond Q-switched lasers and micro-Joule-level femtosecond pulses from cumbersome multistage down-conversion schemes driven by 800-nm Ti:sapphire amplifiers have been demonstrated. Project LUMINOS intends to jump-start the era of compact efficient sources operating in the 5-10 µm with at kHz repetition rates, several milli-Joule pulse energy and pulse duration nearing a single optical cycle. This breakthrough implies the development of an unprecedented femtosecond chirped-pulse laser amplifier at 2.1-µm to solve the problems in mid-IR parametric amplification linked to the pump wavelength, conversion efficiency, and amplified bandwidth. We propose to develop and offer for commercialization the first high-intensity and average power Ho-doped femtosecond solid-state amplifier and demonstrate it as a pump source for a mid-IR parametric amplifier. The technical idea and the feasibility proof behind this project arose during the implementation of the ERC project CyFi, in which a multicolor source was built with the longest wavelength component at >3 µm. The latter can be used as a starting point for a deeper infrared conversion proposed to be explored in the PoC scheme.
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