Member of Projects 1.2 "Ultrafast Laser Physics and Nonlinear Optics," 2.3 "Time-resolved XUV science"
This project is devoted to the research and development of ultrafast infrared driver sources for (a) atomic and molecular attosecond strong-field spectroscopy and (ii) soft X-ray pulse generation by high-harmonic generation in gases
07/2012 - present: Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Born Institute
04/2012-07/2012: Postdoctoral visit, Department of Chemistry, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, U.S.A.
06/2008 - 12/2011: Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Optics and Quantum Electronics, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
04/2010 - 07/2010: Postdoctoral visit, Max Planck Insitute for Quantum Optics, Garching, Germany
01/2010 - 03/2010: Postdoctoral visit, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A.
11/2007 - 04/2008: Postdoctoral visit, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A.
05/2006 - 10/2007: Postdoctoral Researcher, Max Born Institute
01/2006 - 03/2006: Temporary Research Position, CVI Laser LLC, NM, U.S.A.
Dec. 2005: Ph.D. in Optical Science and Engineering, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A.
1998: Diploma in Physics, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
A dual-beam 100 kHz OPCPA system has been developed delivering an unprecedented average power at 1.55 μm in 430 μJ, 51 fs, passively CEP-stabilized pulses together with optically synchronized, 125 μJ, 73 fs pulses at 3.1 μm. In contrast to existing few-cycle mid-infrared (i.e., MIR, > 3µm), high repetition rate (i.e., >> 10 kHz) OPCPA systems operating at pulse energies above 100 µJ, our system is based on noncollinear KTA booster amplifiers seeded in the near-infrared at 1.55 µm, and a simple angular dispersion compensation technique . Despite the noncollinear amplifying geometry, KTA can be efficiently used for generating broadband, high-quality MIR pulses at high average power. The resulting OPCPA system is the first ultrafast 100 kHz table-top source delivering two, simultaneously available, optically synchronized infrared beams (i.e., ≥ 1.5 µm) with average powers well above 10 W in each beam and a total average power exceeding 55 W after chirp compensation. Experiments utilizing a reaction microscope have already been started.
Scheme of the dual-beam, 100 kHz OPCPA system. SHG, second-harmonic generation; WLC, white-light continuum generation; DFG, difference-frequency generation; OPA, optical parametric amplifier; PPLN, periodically poled LiNbO3; KTA, KTiOAsO4; CM, chirped mirrors; ADC, angular dispersion compensation; Si, silicon window.
Further development will include an upgrade of the 2-branch Yb-fiber pump/seed laser, the implementation of active CEP stabilization, and nonlinear pulse compression of the 1.55 μm beam. The 1.55 μm output of this unique system will serve as the pump of a high-flux soft-X-ray source with a spectrum reaching the water window, while the 3.1 μm beam will provide optically synchronized driver pulses for strong-field interactions.
 M. Mero, Z. Heiner, V. Petrov, H. Rottke, F. Branchi, G. M. Thomas, M. J. J. Vrakking, "43 W, 1.55 μm and 12.5 W, 3.1 μm dual-beam, sub-10 cycle, 100 kHz optical parametric chirped pulse amplifier," Opt. Lett. 43, 5246 (2018). [link]
The angular dispersion compensation scheme was first implemented on a small-scale system at the SALSA Photonics Lab at the Humboldt University of Berlin. The infrared optical parametric amplifier (OPA) part of the SALSA system is driven by only 40 μJ pulses at 1.03 μm (i.e., this is the pulse energy measured right at the output of the pump laser) and delivers 7.8 μJ, 38 fs, 1.53 μm and 2.3 μJ, 53 fs, CEP-stable, 3.1 μm pulses at a repetition rate of 100 kHz . One of the remarkable features of this system is the angular-dispersion-compensated 3.1 µm idler beam. Through careful beam and pulse characterization, and high-harmonic generation in YAG (odd orders up to the 9th without much effort), we proved that the corrected idler beam is diffraction-limited, astigmatism-free, and compressible to its transform-limited pulse duration corresponding to only 5 optical cycles. By a direct comparison to our previous SALSA OPA source based entirely on PPLN , we also showed that the performance of a noncollinear, KTA-based power amplifier for dual-beam operation at a given broad gain bandwidth is superior to the performance of a collinear, PPLN-based booster stage in terms of conversion efficiency, beam quality, and carrier-envelope phase (CEP) noise. Successful implementation of this simple angular dispersion compensation scheme on the large-scale system at MBI proves its scalability to high average powers.
The OPA source at SALSA is part of the first 100 kHz broadband vibrational sum-frequency generation (BB-VSFG) spectrometer . The early version of the OPA source was based on PPLN amplifier stages and was used to investigate average-power-induced thermal effects in BB-VSFG experiments conducted on molecular layers at an interface between two transparent phases. The paper summarizing the results was Editor's Pick at the Journal of Chemical Physics . Recently, the spectrometer was successfully used to characterize single- and two-component lipid monolayers as a function of surface pressure and mixture ratio .
At a pump wavelength of 1 µm, extension of the wavelength range to the MIR range above 5 µm can be achieved by employing novel wide-gap non-oxide crystals. We implemented a small-scale OPA based on LiGaS2 which was integrated into a BB-VSFG spectrometer. By doing this, we demonstrated (i) the first sub-100 fs, µJ scale pulses in the 7-9 µm range from an LGS OPA pumped at 1 µm, and (ii) the first 100 kHz BB-VSFG measurements in the fingerprint region .
 Z. Heiner, V. Petrov, G. Steinmeyer, M. J. J. Vrakking, and M. Mero, “100-kHz, dual-beam OPA delivering high-quality, 5-cycle angular-dispersion-compensated mid-infrared idler pulses at 3.1 μm,” Opt. Express 26, 25793 (2018). [link]
 Z. Heiner, V. Petrov, and M. Mero, "Compact, high-repetition-rate source for broadband sum-frequency generation spectroscopy," APL Photonics 2, 066102 (2017). [link]
 F. Yesudas, M. Mero, J. Kneipp, and Z. Heiner, "Vibrational sum-frequency generation spectroscopy of lipid bilayers at repetition rates up to 100 kHz," J. Chem. Phys. 148, 104702 (2018). [link]
 F. Yesudas, M. Mero, J. Kneipp, and Z. Heiner, "High-resolution and high-repetition-rate vibrational sum-frequency generation spectroscopy of one-and two-component phosphatidylcholine monolayers," Anal. Bioanal. Chem. (2019). [link]
 Z. Heiner, L. Wang, V. Petrov, and M. Mero, "Broadband vibrational sum-frequency generation spectrometer at 100 kHz in the 950-1750 cm−1 spectral range utilizing a LiGaS2 optical parametric amplifier," submitted to Optics Express (2019), arXiv:1904.00046 [link]
FundingLeibniz-Gemeinschaft (SAW-2012-MBI-2); Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (H2020) (654148)
- Sub-50 fs pulse generation from a SESAM mode-locked Tm,Ho-codoped calcium aluminate laser Optics Letters 46 (2021) 2642-2645
- Few-cycle, μJ-level pulses beyond 5 μm from 1-μm-pumped OPA's based on non-oxide nonlinear crystals SPIE Proceedings Series 11670 (2021) 116700W-8
- SESAM mode-locked Tm:LuYO3 ceramic laser generating 54-fs pulses at 2048 nm Applied Optics 59 (2020) 10493-10497
- Single-walled carbon-nanotube saturable absorber assisted Kerr-lens mode-locked Tm:MgWO4 laser Optics Letters 45 (2020) 6142-6145
- Nonlinear optical investigation of microbial chromoproteins Frontiers in Plant Science 11 (2020) 547818/1-14
- Efficient, sub-4-cycle, 1-µm-pumped optical parametric amplifier at 10 µm based on BaGa4S7 Optics Letters 45 (2020) 5692-5695
- Thin-disk laser-pumped OPCPA system delivering 4.4 TW few-cycle pulses Optics Express 28 (2020) 34574-34585
- Progress in ultrafast, mid-infrared optical parametric chirped pulse amplifiers pumped at 1 μm SPIE Proceedings Series 11264 (2020) 112640F/1-7
- SWCNT-SA mode-locked Tm:LuYO3 ceramic laser delivering 8-optical-cycle pulses at 2,05 µm Optics Letters 45 (2020) 459-462
- Sub-100-fs bulk solid-state lasers near 2-micron SPIE Proceedings, Eleventh International Conference on Information Optics and Photonics (CIOP1019), Xi'an, China 11209 (2019) 112094G/1-16