The “Industry 4.0” concept, first introduced by the German government, has recently extended the scope of compact high-power laser applications to, for instance, laser manufacturing, vehicle engine development, or thruster systems for space exploration.
However, integration of a controllable Q-switch into compact solid-state lasers has been challenging because of the mechanisms of EO and AO effects. In addition, previous Q-switches needed a large-sized power supply, which prevented downscaling of the entire system.
Now, researchers at Toyohashi University of Technology, Iowa State University, and the Institute for Molecular Science have developed a magneto-optic (MO) Q-switched laser for the first time, using a 190-micron-thick magnetic garnet film with labyrinth-shaped magnetic domains. They used custom-made coil and circuits to generate the pulsed magnetic field to be applied to the magnetic garnet, and successfully generated optical output with a pulse width of tens of nanoseconds. This is the first demonstration ever of a Q-switched laser driven by magnetic domain motions, and also the first evidence of the possibility of an integrated Q-switched laser. “The device was two orders of magnitude smaller than other reported controllable Q-switches,” commented Associate Professor Taira.