Thermally induced transverse modal instabilities (TMI) have attracted these five years an intense research efforts of the entire fiber laser development community, as it represents the current most limiting effect of further power scaling of high power fiber laser. Anyway, since 2014, a few publications point out a new limiting thermal effect: fiber modal degradation (FMD). It is characterized by a power rollover and simultaneous increase of the cladding light at an average power far from the TMI threshold together with a degraded beam which does not exhibit temporal fluctuations, which is one of the main characteristic of TMI.
We report here on the first systemic experimental study of FMD in a high power photonic crystal fiber. We put a particular emphasis on the dependence of its average power threshold on the regime of operation. We experimentally demonstrate that this dependence is intrinsically linked to regime-dependent PD-saturated losses, which are nearly three times higher in CW regime than in short pulse picosecond regime. We make the hypothesis that the existence of these different PD equilibrium states between CW regime and picosecond QCW pulsed regime is due to a partial photo-bleaching of color centers in picosecond regime thanks to a higher probability of multi-photon process induced photobleaching (PB) at high peak power. This hypothesis is corroborated by the demonstration of the reversibility of the FMD induced in CW regime by simply switching the seed CW 1064 nm light by a short pulse, picosecond oscillator.
Johan Boullet, Cyril Vincont, Alain Jolly, and Christophe Pierre, "Regime dependence of photo-darkening-induced modal degradation in high power fiber amplifier (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10083, Fiber Lasers XIV: Technology and Systems, 100830O (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 31, 2017; Published: 21 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2252512.5383482355001.
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