Date of Award

Winter 12-2016

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Dissertation (CMU Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Elias Towe


Ultra-short and high-peak-power laser pulses have important industrial and scientific applications. While direct laser amplification can lead to peak powers of several million watts, higher values than these cannot be achieved without causing damage to the amplifier material. Chirped pulse amplification technique is thus invented to break this barrier. By temporally stretching pulses before entering amplifier, the pulse peak power is significantly reduced and thus becomes safe to be passed through the amplifier. After amplification, a compressor is used to recover the pulse width, and high-power ultra-short laser pulses are produced. Chirped pulse amplification technology increases the pulse energy by transferring the damaging effects of high-peak power laser pulses from the vulnerable amplifier to a relatively robust compressor system. The compressor is therefore a crucial device for producing high peak powers. However, there are some major drawbacks associated with it. First, compressors in high-energy laser system are usually over 1 cubic meter in size. For many applications, this large and cumbersome size is a limiting factor. Second, compressors are sensitive to outside disturbances; a little misalignment can lead to failure of pulse compression process. Third, gratings with large uniformly ruled area are difficult to fabricate, which impose a limit on achievable peak powers and pulse durations of laser pulses through the use of conventional compressors. In this project, we present a grating-based monolithic optical compressor that offers a way around some of the major problems of existing compressors. By integrating the key optical components, one can make a robust and monolithic compressor that requires no alignment. In the new scheme, folding the optical path with reflective coatings allows one to design a compressor of significantly reduced size by minimizing both the longitudinal and transverse dimensions of the device. The configuration and operation mechanism of this novel compressor are described. A method for calculating the volume of the compressor is investigated. This is validated by computing the size of a specific monolithic compressor. Simulation results obtained through finite-difference time-domain method are presented, proving that the new compressor provides a compact, portable, and robust means for temporally compressing long duration pulses.

Available for download on Sunday, January 09, 2022