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Semiconductor lasers are ideally suited for mass production and widespread applications, because they are based on a wafer-scale technology with a high level of integration. Not surprisingly, the first lasers entering virtually every household were semiconductor lasers in compact disk players. A new ultrafast semiconductor laser concept has been introduced by Prof. Keller, which is power scalable, suitable for pulse repetition rate scaling in the 10 to 100 GHz regime, supports both optical and electrical pumping and allows for wafer-scale fabrication. This class of devices is referred to as the modelocked integrated external-cavity surface emitting laser (MIXSEL). The next step towards even lower-cost and more compact ultrafast lasers will be electrical pumping with both pico- and femtosecond pulses. This would result in devices ideally suited for many applications such as telecommunications, optical clocking, frequency metrology, high resolution nonlinear multiphoton microscopy, optical coherence tomography, laser display . anywhere where the current ultrafast laser technology is considered to be too bulky or expensive.
The project aims to demonstrate optically and electrically pumped MIXSELs in both the pico- and femtosecond regime. Picosecond MIXSELs are ideally suited for clocking applications whereas femtosecond MIXSELs are required for continuum generation and many biomedical applications. For both cases, average powers above 100 mW with electrical pumping and above 500 mW with optical pumping should be reached, which represent significant advances of ultrafast MIXSELs.