NSU Creates Unique Crystals for Medical and Defense Industries

The Quantum Optical Technologies Laboratory at the NSU Physics Departmentis conducting unique experiments on the high-efficiency parametric generation of crystalline structures that are obtained from Potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP). The research is taking place in the framework of the "Nonlinear Photonics and Quantum Technologies" Strategic Academic Unit. These structures, manufactured for the first time in Russia, have a wide range of practical applications.

KTP crystals have high nonlinear optical and electro-optical properties so they are used for electro-optic modulation of high-power laser radiation. In addition, they have a high threshold of optical stability and allow hard focus pump radiation as compared to structures from LiNbO3. Parametric light generators based on KTP periodic structures operate in the mid-infrared range and are of great practical interest. In the mid-range, there are absorption bands of toxic and explosive substances. These lasers can be used to diagnose leaks from natural gas and oil pipelines, as well as having applications in medicine and the defense industry.

Until now, these crystalline structures were made only in France, Israel and Sweden. Scientists from various institutions in Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg participated in the creation of the structures in Russia. The substrates were grown at the S.S. Kutateladze Institute of Thermophysics under the supervision of Dr. A.B. Kaplun. The physical properties of the plates were studied at NSU under the guidance of Dr. A.V. Gorchakov. Periodic structures were created at the Ural Federal University by Professor V. Y. Shchur. Polishing and manufacturing of antireflection surfaces was done in the NSU Functional Materials Laboratory by Dr. L.I. Isaenko. The whole cycle from creation to manufacturing of the crystalline structures takes place in Russia. The scientists consider this important in the current political climate.

Dmitri Kolker, Head of the NSU Quantum Optical Technologies Laboratory provided some background to the development,

Today, for many programs we are working on you must only purchase domestic components so you are not dependent on anyone else. Previously, KTP structures were made abroad and attempts to make them in Russia did not have positive results. We decided to launch a new initiative. I contacted all KTP crystal producers so we were able to research the physical and optical properties of KTP plates from different manufacturers. By identifying the optimum parameters for the plates, we created a regular domain structure. Based on this research the Ural Federal University was able to produce these structures. This is how the first Russian structure was made and we obtained parametric generation based on the established parameters.

Now scientists have started to make working samples of bulk crystals measuring 4 '4' 20 mm. Such crystals could be of interest in the development of powerful radiation sources in the mid-infrared range.

A group of scientists at the Quantum Optical Technologies Laboratory participated in the development of a device for diagnostics in medicine together with Tomsk State University and the “Special Technologies” company. This device is currently being used to conduct research on exhaled air for medical diagnosis in Tomsk and Germany. Scientists will modernize these devices based on the latest NSU research. They will try to simplify a complex optical scheme that has a large number of algorithms, calculations and controls to help reduce the cost of manufacturing similar equipment and extend its service life.

NSU is also working on the development of wide-aperture periodic structures from KTiAsO4 (KTA). These are used for parametric generation in the first window of atmospheric transparency (3-5 μm). These structures will be in demand to create sources for coherent infrared radiation with increased power that will have a wide range of applications.

Various grant programs supported this work with crystals. Nadezhda Kostyukova, Laboratory of Quantum Optical Technologies, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, received "My First Grant" support from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research. The grant covers research on nonlinear crystals in the mid-infrared range. Laboratory assistant Andrei Boyko, will have an internship at the Max Born Institute in Germany supported by the "Mikhail Lomonosov" joint Russian- German DAAD program and the Russian Federation Ministry of Education and Science. His work will investigate high power parametric light generators in the mid-infrared range.