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PI: Johnston, Michael

Department: Physics

Lasers are currently used in industry for cutting a wide range of materials and in medicine for some surgical procedures.  The vast majority of these lasers emit light continuously rather than as short pulses and often work by heating the material to be cut.  Lasers with repeated pulses that last for just 10 femtoseconds (1/10 000 000 000 000 seconds) have the advantage that they can produce extremely narrow cuts with much less damage to adjacent materials compared with traditional cutting lasers. However, these "femtosecond lasers" have traditionally been too low in average power for most cutting applications without the addition of expensive and unreliable optical amplifiers.  This project will exploit our recent discovery of a new class of femtosecond laser gain material to demonstrate a route to cost effective visible femtosecond lasers, which scale to high powers. A major obstacle to utilising this gain material is heating and degradation associated with its low thermal conductivity.  Through laser and gain-material design we will overcome these issues and demonstrate proof-of-concept for a "femtosecond perovskite laser".  Through consultation with industrial project partners, we will also identify and communicate potential applications of this technology to end users in manufacturing and medicine. The scope of this project is to demonstrate an optically pumped laser which will take the technology to the stage of licensing and industrial investment. With further investment the technology has great potential for extension to high powers and to create cheaper and more compact "direct-electrically-pumped" femtosecond lasers, thereby allowing more widespread use of precision laser cutting.

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