The invention provides an efficient, compact means of generating blue laser light at a wavelength near .about.493+/-3 nm, based on the use of a laser diode-pumped Yb-doped laser crystal emitting on its zero phonon line (ZPL) resonance transition at a wavelength near .about.986+/-6 nm, whose fundamental infrared output radiation is harmonically doubled into the blue spectral region. The invention is applied to the excitation of biofluorescent dyes (in the .about.490-496 nm spectral region) utilized in flow cytometry, immunoassay, DNA sequencing, and other biofluorescence instruments. The preferred host crystals have strong ZPL fluorecence (laser) transitions lying in the spectral range from .about.980 to .about.992 nm (so that when frequency-doubled, they produce output radiation in the spectral range from 490 to 496 nm). Alternate preferred Yb doped tungstate crystals, such as Yb:KY(WO.sub.4).sub.2, may be configured to lase on the resonant ZPL transition near 981 nm (in lieu of the normal 1025 nm transition). The laser light is then doubled in the blue at 490.5 nm.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.