The University of Southampton

OPTO6002 Solid State and Ultrafast Lasers

Module Overview

The operating principles of a wide variety of lasers in these two areas will be covered, as well as practical implementations and uses. Solid state and Ultrafast lasers are used in many branches of science and technology, and are an important sub-field within the field of photonics, because they drive technologies in related disciplines.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of the course is to provide knowledge of solid state and ultrafast lasers as fundamental tools of contemporary science and technology.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Appreciate the potential variety of solid state lasers, with their various advantages and disadvantages
  • Appreciate the breadth of applications for solid state lasers, and why each laser suits a particular application
  • Appreciate the physics behind ultrafast pulse generation and propagation
  • Appreciate the diversity and applicability of attosecond technologies in science and engineering
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a variety of information sources (lectures, web, journals) to understand & solve problems (in this case in contemporary laser physics)
  • Use feedback from problem classes to prepare for answering examination questions
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand how the design of lasers will influence their output characteristics
  • Be able to assess the application of different laser systems to particular applications
  • Perform quantitative calculations on the operating parameter and output parameters of a wide variety of solid state and ultrafast lasers
  • Predict the properties of new laser systems based upon knowledge of their design parameters


Part 1: Solid state lasers - Fundamentals of lasers - Laser beams and their properties - Gaussian beam optics, beam propagation factor (M 2), multimode beams - Spectroscopic and physical properties of solid-state and fibre laser gain media - Theory for three/four-level lasers – Threshold, slope efficiency, output power, gain - Laser modes and resonator design - Pump sources, pump delivery and coupling schemes - Transverse and longitudinal mode selection - Wavelength diversity – Main laser transitions, wavelength selection and tuning - Continuous-wave and pulsed laser architectures – Design considerations and techniques - Heat generation and thermal management - Power scaling strategies (cladding-pumping, MOPAs, thin disk, planar/slab, etc) - Power scaling limits (thermal, damage, nonlinear, self-focussing Part 2 – Ultrafast lasers and attosecond technologies - Ultrafast oscillators - Ultrafast pulse measurement: autocorrelation, FROG - Dispersion and ultrafast pulse propagation. - Chirped pulse amplification: Ti-sapphire, fibre - Basics of HHG - QM modelling of attosecond electron dynamics - Phase matching in extreme NLO - Attosecond pulse production & measurement - Attophysics examples

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Combination of lectures, lab visits and problem classes.

Follow-up work18
Completion of assessment task18
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Wider reading or practice34
Total study time140

Resources & Reading list

Eugene Hecht. Optics. 

Anthony E Siegman (31533). Lasers. 

Orazio Svelto. Principles of Lasers. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2.5 hours) 70%
Problem Sheets  () 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: PHYS6024

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