F. Ömer Ilday, Bilkent Üniversitesi
on High-power ultrafast fiber lasers: from solitons to similaritons

Ultrafast lasers producing intense femtosecond pulses have diverse applications, from optical frequency metrology (e.g, 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics) and femto-chemistry (e.g., 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), to next generation light sources under construction, to machining materials with nanometer precision and nanosurgery. Fiber lasers offer important advantages in all of these areas with their compact size, low-cost, high stability and excellent low-noise performance, but traditionally these lasers have generated too low powers greatly limiting their utility. In this talk, I will describe a set of developments that led to more than 100-fold increase in the pulse energy, turning fiber lasers from mostly an academic curiosity into an exciting and superior technology. These developments are in part a result of the demonstration of the existence of self-similar pulses (similaritons) in a laser resonator. Self-similarity is a recurring theme in the description of countless natural phenomena. In this case, it constitutes a new regime of mode-locking, distinct from the previously known regimes. I will describe work in progress in my laboratory at Bilkent University, where we pursue the application of these lasers to optical clocks, next-generation light sources, nanoscale materials processing and generation of extremely stable frequencies.