Shorter light pulses thanks to nanostructured gratings – The Nano Argovia project UltraNanoGRACO is testing a new type of laser system

Researchers at CSEM Muttenz, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, and the startup Menhir Photonics AG (Basel) use nanostructured gratings to generate extremely short high-intensity light pulses (Photo: CSEM Muttenz, FHNW, Menhir Photonics).

In the Nano Argovia project UltraNanoGRACO, a team of researchers from CSEM Muttenz, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, and the startup Menhir Photonics AG (Basel) are examining a new type of laser pulse compressor to be combined with an ultrafast laser. The laser system is intended to produce extremely short, high-intensity light pulses.

Amplification required
Ultrafast lasers have many potential applications, ranging from telecommunications through metrology and machining metals to medical engineering. The light pulses from these lasers have a duration of less than 1 picosecond (10‌-12 seconds). Some applications require the pulses to be amplified. To ensure that excessive pulse intensity does not damage the amplifiers, the light pulses are first stretched and then compressed again once they have passed through the amplifier. The compression quality is a decisive factor for the final length of the pulse and the maximum intensity. These are parameters that have to be optimized for different applications.

Gratings result in superimposition
In the Nano Argovia project UltraNanoGRACO, researchers led by Dr. Fabian Lütolf from CSEM Muttenz are examining a new type of laser pulse compressor for ultrafast lasers that is intended to enable increased intensity. The stretched light pulses pass through the newly developed optical gratings. The gratings cause the wavelengths, which were previously temporally and spatially separated, to be superimposed again and produce a shorter and more intense light pulse.

The compressor studied in the project together with the partners Dr. Bojan Resan (School of Engineering, FHNW) and Dr. Florian Emaury (Menhir Photoics AG) not only individually shortens and intensifies the light pulse, but also meets the requirements for stability and economic viability with an optimized design.

The project partners are testing whether the compressor can be used together with the ultrafast Menhir Photonics laser to reliably generate pulses with wavelengths of 1550 nm that can be used for telecommunications, metrology, and nonlinear optical applications.

“The partners involved in the Nano Argovia project UltraNanoGRACO have the perfect combination of expertise in the design and production of nanostructures and in laser research and development. For Menhir Photonics, the project is an ideal opportunity to conduct a feasibility study.”

Dr. Florian Emaury, CEO and co-founder of Menhir Photonics AG

More Information about the project partners: CSEM, Hochschule für Technik, FHNW, Menhir Photonics