Synchronized and timing-stabilized pulse generation from a gain-switched laser diode for stimulated Raman scattering microscopy
We present a picosecond laser source based on a gain-switched laser diode (GS-LD) that can be applied to stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy. A 1.06-μm GS-LD was used to generate 14-ps pulses at a repetition rate of 38 MHz. The GS-LD was driven by 200-ps electrical pulses, which were triggered through a toggle flip-flop (T-FF). As a result, the GS-LD pulses were subharmonically synchronized to Ti:sapphire laser (TSL) pulses at a repetition rate of 76 MHz. We investigated the timing jitter of GS-LD pulses and found it to be less than 2.5 ps. We also show that the trigger delay can be less sensitive to the optical power of TSL pulses by controlling the threshold voltage of the T-FF. As a result, GS-LD pulses sufficiently overlapped with TSL pulses even when we scanned the wavelength of the TSL pulses. We demonstrate the SRS imaging of HeLa cells with GS-LD pulses and TSL pulses, proving that GS-LD is readily applicable to SRS microscopy as a compact and stable pulse source.