Versatile short-wave and mid-infrared sources based on wideband parametric conversion

The mid-infrared part of the optical spectrum is of high interest in a wide range of applications such as environmental gas monitoring, contaminant detection in the chemical, food or pharmaceutical industry, medical diagnosis, or defense and security. Relevant molecules can readily be identified through their mid-infrared absorption spectra, as the latter contains the fundamental resonances of a number of pollutant and toxic gases. Consequently, spectroscopic apparatus, light detection and ranging systems or free-space communication links all benefit from the progress accomplished by mid-infrared technologies over the last years. However some shortcomings in the light emitters capabilities are still to be addressed. In this research work, we aim at designing a mid-infrared laser as versatile as possible and based on nonlinear wavelength conversion. The conversion relies on third-order parametric effects in waveguides such as optical fibers made of various types of glass, or integrated semiconductor chips. The objective is to leverage mature communication-band components to generate and shape the seed optical signals, then mixed in the abovementioned waveguides to down-convert them towards midinfrared. The wavelength conversion is performed in two stages, and the first stage consists of a parametric source emitting in the short-wave infrared range. This thesis mostly focuses on the design and realization of this stage. As such, it is closely linked to the field of nonlinear fiber optics, where the use of silica is preponderant. We build on the research performed over the last years on parametric amplifiers, initially used for the re-amplification of communication signals, and we combine it with technologies dedicated to short-wave infrared fiber lasers. As such, we are able to build wavelength tunable and modulation-capable short-wave infrared sources, significantly more powerful and versatile than previous broadband parametric converter designs. The end of the dissertation is then dedicated to the solutions that are then envisioned to realize the second conversion stage, towards mid-infrared. Very promising numerical and experimental results indicate a successful outcome to the project, confirming the validity of the laser concept.

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