All-solid-state VUV frequency comb at 160 nm using high-harmonic generation in nonlinear femtosecond enhancement cavity

We realized a solid-state-based vacuum ultraviolet frequency comb by harmonics generation in an external enhancement cavity. Optical conversions were so far reported by only using gaseous media. We present a theory that allows the most suited solid generation medium to be selected for specific target harmonics by adapting the material’s bandgap. We experimentally use a thin AlN film grown on a sapphire substrate to realize a compact frequency comb high-harmonic source in the Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) / Vacuum Ultraviolet (VUV) spectral range. By extending our earlier VUV source [Opt. Express 26, 21900 (2018)] with the enhancement cavity, a sub-Watt level Ti:sapphire femtosecond frequency comb is enhanced to 24 W stored average power, its 3rd, 5th, and 7th harmonics are generated, and the targeted 5th harmonic’s power at 160 nm increased by two orders of magnitude. The emerging nonlinear effects in the solid medium, together with suitable intra-cavity dispersion management, support optimal enhancement and stable locking. To demonstrate the realized frequency comb’s spectroscopic ability, we report on the beat measurement between the 3rd harmonic beam and a 266 nm CW laser reaching about 1 MHz accuracy.