Femtosecond laser spectroscopy, autocorrelation, and second harmonic generation: An experiment for undergraduate students

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© 2019 European Physical Society. College educators have an implicit obligation to teach students today about optics and photonics for the jobs of tomorrow. This experiment is designed for upper-level undergraduates to work in a femtosecond laser lab. The optics are aligned prior to students arriving in the lab for ease of instruction. While performing the experiment, students are allowed to move a translation stage, which functions to overshoot or delay the arrival of the translation arm laser pulse at a nonlinear beta-barium borate (BBO) crystal relative to the arrival of the stationary arm laser pulse. Ultimately, students generate an autocorrelation of the laser pulse using second harmonic generation (SHG) from the BBO crystal and the femtosecond pulse duration. Students benefit from seeing the inner-workings of a femtosecond laser and the experimental setup. Moreover, they begin to understand SHG, consider laser applications, and get a glimpse of a possible career focus.

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