Generation and application of high power femtosecond pulses in the vibrational fingerprint region
We present a novel high power femtosecond infrared laser source, based on a three-stage chirped-pulse amplification scheme. Owing to the high power output of the Ti:sapphire amplifiers, it becomes routinely possible to produce femtosecond infrared laser pulses in the wavelength region of 2.6-20 μm with minimum pulse energies of 15 μJ, to our knowledge roughly an improvement of an order of magnitude. With such pulses we have performed femtosecond second-order nonlinear optical surface spectroscopy in the fingerprint region. We have probed the skeletal modes of the first few monolayers of a polymer/air interface in a femtosecond vibrational sum frequency generation experiment. This development opens up new possibilities to investigate surface structures and dynamics of, e.g., organo-metallic compounds, proteins, and peptides.