We report on the development of what we consider to be a practical and highly stable stretched-pulse laser based on Yb 3+ -doped silica fiber. The Fabry Perot cavity uses nonlinear polarization rotation as the mode-locking mechanism, and a semiconductor saturable-absorber mirror to ensure robust self-starting and incorporates a diffraction grating pair to compensate for the normal dispersion of the fiber. Use of a single-mode grating-stabilized telecommunications-qualified pump laser diode ensures reliable, low-noise operation ( 0.05 amplitude fluctuations at 10-Hz measurement bandwidth). The laser generates high-quality, 60-pJ pulses of 110 fs duration at a repetition rate of 54 MHz (3-mW average power)
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