The development of coherent light sources with emission in the mid-IR is currently undergoing a remarkable revolution. The mid-IR spectral range has always been of tremendous interest, mainly to spectroscopists, due to the ability of mid-IR light to access rotational and vibrational resonances of molecules which give rise to superb sensitivity upon optical probing [1-3]. Previously, high energy resolution was achieved with narrowband lasers or parametric sources, but the advent of frequency comb sources has revolutionized spectroscopy by providing high energy resolution within the frequency comb structure of the spectrum and at the same time broadband coverage and short pulse duration [4-6]. Such carrier to envelope phase (CEP) controlled light waveforms, when achieved at ultrahigh intensity, give rise to extreme effects such as the generation of isolated attosecond pulses in the vacuum to extreme ultraviolet range (XUV) . Motivated largely by the vast potential of attosecond science, the development of ultraintense few-cycle and CEP stable sources has intensified , and it was recognized that coherent soft X-ray radiation could be generated when driving high harmonic generation (HHG) with long wavelength sources [9-11]. Recently, based on this concept, the highest waveform controlled soft X-ray flux  and isolated attosecond pulse emission at 300 eV  was demonstrated via HHG from a 1850 nm, sub-2-cycle source . Within strong field physics, long wavelength scaling may lead to further interesting physics such as the direct reshaping of the carrier field , scaling of quantum path dynamics , the breakdown of the dipole approximation  or direct laser acceleration . The experimental development of long wavelength light sources therefore holds great promise in many fields of science and will lead to numerous applications beyond strong field physics and attosecond science. In this paper, we present the first mid-IR optical parametric chirped pulse amplifier (OPCPA) operating at a center wavelength of 7 μm with output parameters suitable already for strong-field experiments. It is also the first demonstration of an Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplifier (OPCPA) using a 2 μm laser pump source which enables the use of non-oxide nonlinear crystals with typically limited transparency at 1 mm wavelength. This new OPCPA system is all-optically synchronized and generates 0.55 mJ energy, CEP stable optical pulses. The pulses are currently compressed to sub-8 optical cycles but support a sub-4 cycle pulse duration. The discrepancy in compression is due to uncompensated higher order phase from the grating compressor which will be addressed in the future.
© (2016) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Daniel Sanchez ; Michael Hemmer ; Matthias Baudisch ; Jens Biegert ; Olivier Chalus, et al.
Broadband 7 microns OPCPA pumped by a 2 microns picosecond Ho:YLF CPA system
", Proc. SPIE 9730, Components and Packaging for Laser Systems II, 97300X (April 22, 2016); doi:10.1117/12.2213136; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2213136