The first soild ultraviolet laser with upconversion visible range pumping in the world may be created at Kazan University.
The unique device can become the result of PhD candidate Viktoriya Gorieva’s work. The research is supported by two projects of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research. The trend today is to work on diode-pumped solid-state lasers. Their energy and weight parameters are unrivalled. Professor at the Department of Quantum Electronics and Radiospectroscopy Vadim Semashko – one of the world’s leading experts in ultraviolet solid-state lasers – told us about what they can be used for. It was his discovery that helped Kazan University join the avant-garde of laser research centers.
First Magnet Radiospectroscopy and Quantum Electronics Lab at the department was opened in 1962 and was tasked with researching electron paramagnetic resonance and its applications. After joining the group the then young Dr. Semashko came up with the idea of ultraviolet laser generation. He chose fliuoride crystals which appeared to be the most suitable for the active medium. The experiments proved to be consistently unsuccessful, but he persisted.
And found luck eventually. In the mid-1990s Semashko came across a fluoride colquiriite (LiCaAlF3) crystal with cerium ions. It was traditionally assumed that particular crystal was unsuitable for rare-earth ion activation. But as it happened, this “unsuitable” crystal was able to reinforce ultraviolet radiation and then became a medium for ultraviolet lasers. “That was a miracle, a dream come true, really impossible to describe with words! I was euphoric because I was the first man in history to witness such a thing”, shares Dr. Semashko. He informed his colleagues and his research consultant, but the editorial board of Quantum Electronics journal refused to believe at first. The paper thus appeared in an overseas journal. Scientists of the world rushed to explore the new area – the best teams in Europe, USA, and Japan joined the works. Naturally, the reputation of our laser researchers skyrocketed as a result.
Russian teams continue to be the leaders in this field. The Lab published 17 papers in peer-reviewed WoS/Scopus journals in 2014. The most popular ones have more than 100 citations each.
Solid-state ultraviolet lasers can be used almost everywhere – from medicine to space tech. They can be very beneficial for satellite communication because Sun’s ultraviolet range brightness is much less intense than in visible and infrared ranges. However, weight and size parameters are still unsatisfactory as of today. In some countries ultraviolet lasers are also used for climate monitoring lidars (unfortunately, Russia isn’t one of them).
UV lasers can also be used in historical relic restoration works for cleaning, in microworks on dielectric materials. There are talks about diamond treatment with lasers. In medicine they are viewed as prospective skin treatment technology efficient against such ailments as vitiligo and psoriasis.
Dr. Semashko elaborates, «A new Functional Photonics Materials Lab was established two years ago. We cooperate with foreign colleagues in crystal synthesis and activated polymers. We also research the possibilities of creating composite materials based on fluoride nanoparticles. In particular, our partner is the Theoretical and Physical Chemistry Institute of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Professor Alciviadis-Constantinos Cefalas is our partner since 1991. Cooperation with him and his institute helped stay afloat during the 1990s when state financing plummeted. We survived thanks to the grants and the access to our colleagues’ equipment».
Dr. Semashko then introduced me to a man who had been inconspicuously working on his laptop throughout our conversation. That was the Professor Cefalas we had been talking about – he came for another research project. Interestingly enough, Dr. Cefalas moonlights as a journalist in the Democracy newspaper in Athens.
He talked about the history of relations, “Cooperation between KFU and NHRF was established in 1989. We conduct joint research and publish collaborative papers. Nowadays we work on nanotechnologies in medicine. We are at the very beginning of this road. We will continue strengthening applied research to contribute to society.
Greece has always been strongly intertwined with Russia. We share common culture. Although Greece is a part of the EU which is not on best terms with Russia currently, 80% of Greeks have a positive attitude towards Russia according to polls. We have many immigrants from the former USSR. We on our side will make all the effort to deepen our cooperation”.