Applications of programmable MEMS micromirrors in laser systems

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2013
Thesis identifier
  • T13521
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The use of optical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) as enabling devices has been shown widely over the last decades, creating miniaturisation possibilities and added functionality for photonic systems. In the work presented in this thesis angular vertical offset comb-drive (AVC) actuated scanning micromirrors, and their use as intracavity active Q-switch elements in solid-state laser systems, are investigated. The AVC scanning micromirrors are created through a multi-user fabrication process, with theoretical and experimental investigations undertaken on the influence of the AVC initial conditions on the scanning micromirror dynamic resonant tilt movement behaviour. A novel actuator geometry is presented to experimentally investigate this influence, allowing a continuous variation of the initial AVC comb-offset angle through an integrated electrothermal actuator. The experimentally observed changes of the resonant movement with varying initial AVC offset are compared with an analytical model, simulating this varying resonant movement behaviour. In the second part of this work AVC scanning micromirrors are implemented as active intra-cavity Q-switch elements of a Nd:YAG solid-state laser system. The feasibility of achieving pulsed laser outputs with pulse durations limited by the laser cavity and not the MEMS Q-switch is shown, combined with a novel theoretical model for the Q-switch behaviour of the laser when using a bi-directional intra-cavity scanning micromirror. A detailed experimental investigation of the pulsed laser output behaviour for varying laser cavity geometries is presented, also discussing the influence of thin film coatings deposited on the mirror surfaces for further laser output power scaling. The MEMS Q-switch system is furthermore expanded using a micromirror array to create a novel Q-switched laser system with multiple individual controllable output beams using a common solid-state gain medium. Experimental results showing the simultaneous generation of two laser outputs are presented, with cavity limited pulse durations and excellent laser beam quality.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2013
Former identifier
  • 996381