School of Physics & Astronomy

Lasers and coherent optical sources

A large team of researchers explores and develops new laser sources. Areas of current activity include:

  • Femtosecond optical pulsesThe operation and measurement of ultrashort laser pulses. St Andrews has scored may significant world-firsts in this area, with work on both lasers and optical parametric oscillators. The photograph shows the generation of optical pulses of femtosecond duration.
  • Optical parametric oscillators share many of the properties of lasers, but are driven by the gain associated with a nonlinear effect in which one pump photon is split into two parts. Our groups have made significant advances in pulsed and continuously operating devices. New materials are continuing to add strength to this area.
  • Miniature ultra-short pulse laser developed in St Andrews researchDiode laser-pumped solid-state lasers are developed, ranging from matchbox-sized microchip lasers to suitcase sized systems with rather higher powers/energies. Our picture shows the heart of one such system where ultrashort pulses can be generated from diode-laser pumping of a relatively small laser - compare the size with the penny piece.
  • Professor Krauss and his research group have extended our work into very much smaller lasers, based on microstructured semiconductor materials.  These periodically structured materials rely on multiple reflections to reflect and/or guide light in the desired manner.
  • Professor Samuel, Dr Turnbull, and colleagues investigate the generation of light in polymers.   These materials may be fabricated to be semiconducting and light emitting.   The picture below some samples fluorescing under ultra-violet light.
  • We have recently opened a "Photonics Innovation Centre", which further strengthens the links between our photonics research and end users.
  • A Biophotonics Collaboration is building on our successes in lasers and other areas of photonics to apply these to solve diagnostic and treatment problems in modern medicine and biology.

Light Emitting Polymers

More information is available in our photonics research pages

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last updated BDS 8.07