Tuesday, 3 June 2014
Today’s ultrafast lasers operate at the physical limits of optical materials to reach extreme performances. Amplification of single-cycle laser pulses with their corresponding octave-spanning spectra still remains a formidable challenge since the universal dilemma of gain narrowing sets limits for both real level pumped amplifiers as well as parametric amplifiers. We demonstrate that employing parametric amplification in the frequency domain rather than in time domain opens up new design opportunities for ultrafast laser science, with the potential to generate single-cycle multi-terawatt pulses. Fundamental restrictions arising from phase mismatch and damage threshold of nonlinear laser crystals are not only circumvented but also exploited to produce a synergy between increased seed spectrum and increased pump energy. This concept was successfully demonstrated by generating carrier envelope phase stable, 1.43?mJ two-cycle pulses at 1.8?µm wavelength.